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From rt-.iHtin; /> C. D. na'Ansen. r,\crt^- .'■ " / . >.'r.->t '- ^"cy. S. F. 

"In the Heart of the Sierras." 







And Scenes by the Way. 

Bio Trek Groves. 

The High Sierra, with its Magnificent Scenery, Ancient and 
Modern Glaciers, and Other Objects of Interest; 



By J. M. HuTCHiNOS, 


Published at the Old Cabin, Yo Semite Valley, • 


Pacific Press Publishing House, Oakland, Cal. 


Entered According to Act of Soijgress, irj the Year 1886, by 


Iij the Office of the Librarian of Eocgress, at Washingtoij. 



C 9 


PmOTO. B> Tmos. HOL'SE' 

g)DEDI6ATTlON. (0 

To the many pleasant friends I have met, and 
others whom I hope to meet at Yo Semite, 
in the Heart of the Sierras, this vol- 
ume is most gratefully and 
feelingly dedicated, by 



The inquiries made by appreciative and intelligent visitors to the 
Yd Semite Valley, have suggestively prompted the themes that should be 
descanted upon in this volume. The information desired I have endeav- 
ored to embody and present. In this labor of love my long residence, and 
many attendant circumstances, have been supplemented by valuable his- 
toric and scientific details, obtained from various sources. For early rec- 
ords of the Valley I am mainly indebted to Dr. L. H. Bunnell, who was 
not only one of its first visitors, and discoverers, but its earliest and princi- 
pal historian;* and through the kindness of Hon. W. J. Howard, of Mari- 
posa, and Major James Burney, of Modesto, California, and others, I have 
been able to supply the missing links needed for the completion of the his- 
torical chain of events, so much desired, and so unavailingly sought after, 
by Dr. Bunnell, concerning some of the Valley's earlier history.t 

The designs for the embossed covers, in black and gold, are by Mr. 
Thomas Hill, the eminent and well-known California artist; who has also 
generously furnished other sketches for this work. To Mr. George Fiske, 
the resident photographic artist of Yo Semite, Mr. S. C. Walker, Tabe'-, 
and other photographers, I desire to acknowledge my obligation for many 
of the representative subjects here presented. And to those who by their 
financial aid have made the publication of this work possible, I gratefullj' 
tender my sincere thanks. 

Nor would I forget the faithful Indian " Tom," who, no matter how 
biting cold the weather, or deep the snow in winter, not only brought us 
our letters and papers, but supplied us with much interesting data of his 
race in connection with the Valley and its primitive inhabitants, and I 
thank him. 

*See "Discovery of the Yo Semite,'' an invaluable and deeply interesting narra- 
tive of personal observation and adventure. 
tibid, page .30. 


a rin:i\\('E. 

By the courteous permission of the ( 'liii-f of Engineers of the U. 8. A., 
Washington. D. C, I am enahled to puhlisli their utticial map uf the Val- 
ley and its surroundings. 

To the Pacific Press Piihlisliing House, Oakland, California, I desire 
to acknowledge my many obligations for the uniform and untiring urbanity 
and kindly services of every officer and employe. The workmanship of 
its multifarious departments will speak for itself in this voluiui-. 

It will readily be seen that in addition to the many finely executed 
wood engravings that were expressly prepared for thisbuok. I have pressed 
into service the nrw and beautiful process of photo-lithography for its 
more complete embellishment. 

For the convenience of those who may be desirous of making hurried 
consultations of portions of this work, sub-headings will be found running 
through its various chapters. 

Having done the very best that I could, I now leave the success of 
my endeavor in the hands of my friends and the public. 

J. M. li. 



CHAPTER I. Is an Epitome of the Voiced Impressions of Eminent Personages 
concerning Yo Semite 13 

CHAPTER II. Cai'Ses Leading to the Discovery of Yo Semite. The Un- 
paralleled Inriux of Gold Miners; Jealousy of the Indians; Breaking Out of 
Hostilities; Otiicial Testimony of Theii' Cruelties and Murders; Mustering in 
of the First Company of Volunteers; Initiative Conflict with the Foe. . .22 

CHAPTER III. How and When Discovered. Formation and Organization of 
the Mariposa Battalion; Its Line of March; Placed in Charge of the U. S. 
Indian Commissioners; Arrival of the U. S. Indian Commissioners at the 
Scene of Hostilities; Peace Me.'^sengersSentto the Indian Villages; Numbers 
of the Different Tribes; A Portion of the Hostiles Accept the Proffered 
Terms; First Intimation of the Existence of Such a Place as the Yo Semite 
Valle}'; Capture of an Indian Village; Interview of the Old Indian Chief, 
Ten-ie-ya, with the Officer in Command; The Y'o Semites Defiant; An Ex- 
pedition Resolved Upon against Them; Y"o Semites Met upon the Way; 
The Yo Semite Valley First Seen by White Men 41 

CHAPTER IV TheXame, "\'o Semite,' Its Origin and Meaning; Legendary 
Tradition Concerning It; Why Spelled Y"o Semite, instead of Y'osemite. .58 

CHAPTER V. Close of the Indian Ca^ipaign. Flight of the Yo Semite In- 
dians; Captives Taken; Start for the Reservation, but all Escape in a 
Single Night; New Campaign Resolved upon; Three of Ten-ie-ya's Sons 
Captured; The Indians Lure Their Pursuers into a Trap; Escape of a Pris- 
oner; Ten-ie-ya"s Youngest Son Shot Dead; Capture of Ten-ie-ya, His At- 
tempted Escape, and Speech; Surprise of an Indian Village at Lake Ten- 
ie-ya; Naming of the Lake; March for Y^o Semite; End of the Mariposa 
Indian War 62 

CHAPTER VI. Early Historical Incidf-n ts. Indians Leave the Reservation; 
Prospecting Miners Murdered in Yo Semite; the U. S. Expedition against 
the Indians Returns without Capturing or Killing an Indian; Approximate 
Extermination of the Y'o Semite Tribe by the Monos; Deatli of Ten-ie-ya, 
The Last Chief of the Y'o Semites; End of Major Savage 74 



CHAPTER VII. The First Tourist Visitors to Yo Semite; Difficulties to be 
Surmounted; Old-time Mining Sceues; Indian ( luides SecuredforYo Semite; 
Origin of the Nomenclature "Briilal Veil Fall;" Discovery of Vernal and 
Nevada Falls; The First View Ever Fublished of Yo Semite 79 

CHAPTER VIII. Early Devklopment and Progress at Yo Semite. Con- 
struction of Trails; Pioneer Hotel Building, and Hotel Keepers; The Old 
Hutchings House; The Pioneer Photographer of Yo Semite 98 

CHAPTER IX. Its First "Winter Visitor. Rumors of Snow-drifts Half 
Filling It; Exploratory Excursion There; Storm Bound; Voyage Down the 
Flooded Merced River; Two Shipwrecks; Hotel on a Cruise; Unsuccessful 
Return; Second Attempt to Visit It; A IVrilous Jouruej" of Eleven Days 
Alone; Six Days Wal'owing through Snow; A Look into Paradise; Antics 
of a Grizzlj' Bear; Successful Termination of the Journey 103 

CHAPTEPv, X. Early Day Rkviewal.s. Primitive Method of Transporting 
Supplies; Mysteries of Packing; Intelligence of MuLs; Enormous Weights 
Packed; A Procession of Odilities; Pack Train Snowed In; Human Help 
and Brandy Carry Timely Aid; Pioneer Methods of Obtaining Lumber; 
Annual Number of Tourist Visitors; Influential Heli>era in the Cause; 
Need of India-rul)ber Adaptability in Accommodations; Progressive Im- 
provements Carried On 1 IS 

CHAPTER XI. Cabin IIomks at Yo Semite. Lamon's Cabiu; Biographical 
Outline of James C. Lamou; His Lonely Residence There for Two Winters: 
His Supposed Murder; The Hutchings Cabin; Winter En;ployments and 
Experiences; Pleasant Occupation the Secret of Human Happiness; The 
Orchard and Strawberry Patch; Entrance of the Angel of Sorrow; In 
Memoriam 134 

CHAPTER XII. Congressional and State Enactments Concerning Yo Sem- 
ite. Act of Congress Oranting Yo Semite Valley to the State; Governor's 
Proclamation Appointing Its Initial Board of Commissioners; Official Ac- 
ceptance of the Grant; Adverse Action Towards the Settlers; State Action 
in Their Behalf; An Incidantal Digression; The Settler's Case before Con- 
gress; Reprehensible Representation in the U. S. Senate; Mistaken "Pul.lic 
Policy;" Adverse Rulings of the Supreme Court; Magnanimity of the State 
Towards the Settlers 149 

CHAPTER XIII. JocRNEY AND RorTEs to Yo Semite IN OiTLiNE. The Seven 
Routes to the Valley and Big Trees; About Personal Baggage; A Word to 
Parties Camping; Cr.mping Outfit in Detail; Teuts and Their Arrange- 
ments 1 63 


CHAPTEPt XIV. The Main or Trunk Route towards Yo Semite— San 
Francisco to Lathrop. Excitements at the Wharf; Crossing the Bay 
Alcatraces (Alcatraz) Island; Angel Island; Mt. Tamalpais; Goat Island 
Oakland Pier, and Its Elegant Waiting Room; Way-Stations; Wild Oats 
The C. P. R. R. Monster Transfer Boat Solano; Straits of Carquinez 
Martinez; Popular Amusements of Native Californians; Monte del Diablo 
Lathrop, and Its Diverging Railroads, 172 

CHAPTER XV . Bay and River Routes to Yo Semite. Scenes at the Wharf; 
The Golden Gate; Fort Point; Islands, En Route; Bays of San Pablo and 
Suisun; Salmon Fishing on the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers; Mos- 
quitoes; Tules on Fire; Productiveness of Tule Lands; Arrival at the Stock- 
ton Wharf. . 191 

CHAPTER XVI. The Milton and Calaveras Big Tree Route. Table of 
Distances; The Citj' of Stockton; Heavy Freight Enterprises; Deepest 
Artesian Well in the State; The Various Strata Passed through When 
Boring It; Railroad Ride to Milton; The Stage and Its Drivers; Kind of 
Country Passed Over; The Mining Village of Murphy's; How and When 
the Big Trees Were First Discovered; Road to the Calaveras Grove; Its 
Commodious Hotel; The Original Big Tree and Its Stump; Walk through 
the Grove; The South Grove, and Its Trees; Ride Down to Murphy's; 
The Newly Discovered Cave There; Calaveras County Caves, and Natural 
Bridges; Drive through the Mining District; Sonora and Its People; Chinese 
Camp 207 

CHAPTER XVII. The Big Trees in General. Their Classification and 
Naming; Why Named Sequoia; Their Distribution, Probable Age, and 
Rapid (irowth; Durability of the Timber; Fossilized Big Trees Found. .241 

CHAPTER XVIII. The Berenda Route. Railroad Ride to Berenda, thence 
to Raymond; Table of Distances; The Horned Toad and Its Habits; The 
Gambetta Gold Mines; Grant's Sulphur Springs; Wawona, with Its Hotel 
and Proi^rietors; Hill's Art Studio; Drive to and through the Mariposa 
Big Tree Grove; Remarkable Size and Characteristics of Its Trees; Wawona 
Point; The Fresno Grove; A Bear Hunt; The Chil-noo-al-na Falls, and Mrs. 
Cook's Poem; Signal Peak; Sublime View of the Sierras Therefrom; Other 
Points of Interest at Wawona; Scenes on the Way to Yo Semite; The 
Glorious View from Inspiration Point 248 

CHAPTER XIX. The Madera Route to Yo Semite. Its Historic Indian 
Associations; Table of Distances; The Town of Madera; The V Lumber 
Flume; Lassoing and Branding of Cattle; Coarse Gold Gulch; Town of 
Fresno Flats; Forest Scenes 272 


CHAPTER XX. The C'orLTEKViLLE Rocte. Towns of Modesto aud Merced; 
Table of Distances; UoUiug Country ; Fossils; The Koad Kunner: Tarant- 
ulas, and Tlieir Enemy; Tlie Stupendous (iold-lnjaring Mother Vein; 
Coulterville; DudKy's iianch; Hower Cave; Coustruetion of the Coulter 
ville and ^'o Semite Turnpike; Sceuery on the Uoud; Pilot Peak; Tlir 
Merced (irove of Big Trees: View from Buena Vist:i (Jap; TIr- (Ireat Canon 
of the Merced lliver 'J7i( 

CUAl'TEK XXI. The Maritosa RoriE. Mariposaiis the First Whites to 
Enter Yo Semite; Table of Distfinees; Mining Stenes by the Way; \ arious 
Methods of Mining for (iold; California (I'uail; A B<jy That " Didn't Know 
Nullink;" The Bed heade«l Woo<lpeeker; Mr. Horace Creeley's Descrip- 
tion of a California Forest; His Teriible Ride to Yo Semite "iUi 

CHAPTER XXII. The Milton A.Ni> Big Oak Flat Rocte to Yo Semite. 
Table of Distances; Milton; The Reservoir House; Copper. .polis; Table 
Mountain; (loodwin's; Chinese Camp; Mottitt's Bridge; Priest's Hotel; 
Big Oak Flat; Hamilton's; Crocker's; Tuolumne (rrove of Big Trees; Crane 
Flat; Foretaste of < J rand Seenes; Crossing tin- Snow Ik-It in Spring; Horses 
on Snow-shoes; Look into the Merced Canon; Magnificent View of Yo 
Semite Valley from the Big Uak Flat Road 311 

CHAPTER XXIII. Scenes to Be Witnessed krom the Floor of the Valley. 
1'lie Ride up It; What the Yo Semite \' alley Is; Theories about Its 
Formation; The Fissures; Eroding Action of (ilaciers over a Mile in 
Thickness; Uncertain Time of the (Jlacial Period; Natural Phenomena; 
Trails Built to Crand Scenic Standpoints; The Three Hotels and Their 
Landlord.s; Siuning's Cabinet Shop; Art Studios; Photo Esttiblishinents; 
Store; Mrs. (dynn's; Livery Stibles; Cuides; Public Scliool; The Yo 
Semite Chapel; The Ouanlian; Forest Trees, Shmbs, Flowers, and Ferns 
of Y"o Semite; Trout Fishing: Basis of Measurements; Tables of Distances; 
Legend of the Lost Arrow; Y'o Semite Falls; Mirror Lake; Legend of 
Tu-tock-ah-nu-lah; Old Moraines; The New Hotel; Doings of a "Cy- 
clone;" Rocky Point; The Three Brothers; El Capitan; The Ribbon Fall; 
Enchantment Point; Picturesijue Road to Cascade Falls; The Pohono 
Bridge and Avenue; Bridal Veil Fall; Indian Dread of "Pohono;" Curious 
Phenomena; The Catliedral Spires; Profile, or Fissure Mountain; The 
Sentinel 336 

CHAPTER XXIV. Manners and Cr.sroMs ok the Indians. Indian Tom, 
His Life Being Saved Induces Him to Tell All That He Knows about 
His Race; The Indian Camp: Present Number of Indians; Aconis Their 
Staple Breadstuff; How Prepared for Food; Other Edilde Luxuries; Fan- 
dangos; Religious Beliefs; Burning of Their Dead 416 



CHAPTER XXV. To Vernal axb Nevada Falls. The Anderson Trail; Reg- 
ister Rock; Sublime View from the New Bridge; The Vernal Fall; De- 
lightful Ride up the Trail; The Cap of Liberty and Nevada Fall; Snow's 
"Casa Nevada;" Eleven Feet of Snow; Diamond Cascade; "Taking a 
Bawth " on the Silver Apron; Emerald Pool; Scene from the Top of the 
Vernal and Nevada Falls; The Ladders; Fern Grotto 438 

CHAPTER XXVI. Grizzly Peak, Half Dome, and Cloud's Rkst. Ascent 
of Grizzly Peak by Mr. Chas. A. Bailey; The Dangerous Yet Compensating 
Climb. Early Futile Attempts to Ascend the Half Dome; Anderson's Per- 
severance Crowned with Success; The View Therefrom without Its 
Counterpart on Earth; Others Who Have Climbed It; The Rope Torn 
Down by an Avalanche; Thrilling Adventure of Two Young Men When 
Engaged in Replacing It. The Marvelously Comprehensive View of the 
Sierras from Cloud's Rest; The Wa_y Thither over Old Moraines, and 
Past Glacier-polished Mountain-sides; The " Umbrella Tree " Near the Top 
of Nevada Fall; The Wonderful "Snow Plant " of the Sierras 454 

CHAPTER XXVII. Glacier Point and its Galaxy of Glories. The Glacier 
Point Trail and Its Builder, James McCauley; Remarkable Scenes on the 
Way; Union Point; The Agassiz Column; Moran Point; The Sierras from 
McCauley 's Porch; Startling View from Glacier Point; Derrick Dodd's 
Tough Hen Story; Sentinel Dome; Ascent of Mt. Starr King; Sugar Loaf 
Shape of the South Dome from the Glacier Canon Trail; The Too-lool-we- 
ack Fall and Canon; Picturesque Road from Chinquapin Flat to Glacier 
Point 467 

CHAPTER XXVIII. The Upper Yo Semite Fall, Eagle Peak, Lake Ten- 
lE-YA, AND High Sierra. Columbia Rock, and Transport Point; Won- 
derful Changes and Effects of the Falling Water Beneath the Upper Yo 
Semite Fall; The Cave There; Frolics of Yo Semite Creek at the Top of the 
Fall befor ■ Making Its Leap Down; Awe-inspiring View from Eagle Peak; 
Dr. Newman's Eulogy There; Forest-arched Ride to Beautiful Lake 
Ten-ie-ya; The Mountains around It; John L. Murjjhy and His Cabin; A 
Curious Phenomenon; Miles of Glacier-polished Granite; The Ascent of Mt. 
Hoffman; Sources of Yo Semite Creek; Upper Verge of the Timber Line; 
Soda Springs; Ascent of Mt. Dana; Evidences of Ancient Glaciers Eight . 
Hundred Feet in Thickness on Top of It; Living Glaciers; Inexpressibly 
Sublime View from the Summit of Mt. Dana; Ascent of Mt. Lyell; Its 
Large Glacier; Sources of the Tuolumne and Merced Rivers; Scenes on 
the Way When Returning to Yo Semite 475 


CHAPTER XXIX. The Seasons at Yo Semite Valley. The Best Time to 
Visit It; Its Captivatiag Dress in Autunui; Winter at Yo Semite; The 
Great Storm and Flood of 18(37; The Snow Fall; Kind of Snow-shoes Used; 
Enchautingly Beautiful Cloud and Snow EfiFocts; Icicles a Hundred and 
Twenty Feet in Length; An Ice Cone Five Hundrjd and Fifty Feet in 
Heiglit; Magical Changes and Brilliant Huesof the Sunlight upon the Falling 
Water; The ICn.l 490 

3 •^• 


JJl — «^^-^ 


In the Heart of the Sierras Opposite Title 

1. Portrait of Author Opposite 3 

2. Bear with its Prey 9 

3. Map of Routes to Vo Semite Valley Opposite 12 

4. Map OF Yo Semite Valley " 12 

5. General View of Yo Semite Valley, from Wawona Road, Opp. 13 

6. Glimpse of Yo Semite Valley, from Big Oak Flat Road. " 26 

7. Ribbon Fall — Lung-oo-too-koo-yah " 42 

8. TU-TOCK-AH-NU-LAH, or El CaPITAN " 58 

9. Indians ON THE March 73 

ID. Initial Letter O — A Mining Scene 75 

11. The Indian Attack 75 

12. Enchantment Point — Too-un-yah. . . Opposite 82 

13. See! I've Struck It — A Mining Scene 82 

14. A Miner's Cabin S3 

15. Ho! FOR the Mountains 84 

16. We Seek a "Cut Off" 85 

17. And Find A "Cut Off" 86 

18. General View of Yo Semite Valley (First sketch ever taken of it) 88 




20. Steady, There! Steady! 93 

21. Cascade Falls Opposite 98 

22. The Old HuTCHiNGS House 102 

23. Now, FOR Another Start lob 

24. Cathedral Spires — Poo-see-na Chick-ka Opposite 106 

25. Fastening on the Packs 119 

26. In Trouble 119 

27. Mexican Persuasion 119 

28. Pack Train on the Traii 120 

29. The Pack Train in Camp at Nicht 123 

30. Carrying Deliverance 125 

31. Caught in a Snow-storm 126 

32. The Three Brothers— Pom- pom-pa-sa Opposite 130 

33. Portrait of James C . Lamon 135 

34. Lamon's Log Cabin ... 136 

35. IIutchings' Old Log Cabin Opposite 13S 

36. The Yo Semite Fall — Cho-lock — in Early Sprinc; Opposite »S4 

37. Outline Plan ov an Open Tent kor Camping 170 

38. Alcatraces (Alcatraz), or Pelican Island 173 

39. The Yo Semite Fall — Reflected, During High Water. .. .Opp. 178 

40. Country Near Martinez 183 

41. Native Californians Racing 184 

42. Californians Snatching the Rooster When in Full Gallop... 186 

43. Island Rapids, from Tis-sa-ack Bridge Opposite i >6 

44. Passing the Golden Gate 194 

45. The Fort (near view) 195 

46. Red, or Treasure Rock 196 

47. The Two Sisters 197 

4(S. Entering the .Straits of Carquinez 198 

49. Looking Toward the Sacramento River 199 

50. Salmon Fishing — Paying out the Seine 200 

51. " " Hauling in the Seine 201 

52. " " Group OF Salmon 202 

53. The San Joaquin River at Night — Tules on Fire 205 

54. Entering the Stockton Slough 206 

55. North Dome — To-coy-.k — F"rom Tis-sa-ack Bridge Opposite 210 

56. The "Prairie Schooner" 209 

57. Calaveras Big Tree Grove Hotei 218 

58. Cotillion Party ofThirty-Two Dancing on the Big Tree Stump 220 

59. Boring Down the Original Big Tree with Pump Augers 221 

60. Trunk of Bu; Tree, and Pavilion 222 

61. Big Tree, "Mother of the Forest" 225 

62. Horseman Emerging from the "1-aiiif.r of ihe Forest"' 226 

63. Big Tree, "Smith's Cabin"' 230 

ILL Ua TEA Tl UXS. yd 

64. Cave View, " Bridal Veil Chamber" 235 

65. Upper Side of Upper Natural Bridge 237 

66. Upper Side of Lower Natural Bridge 238 

67. Cone and Foliage of the Big Trees, Ordinary Size 242 

68. Representative Cones and Flowers of the two Sequoias. 243 

69. The Horned Toah 250 

70. Eggs of the Horned Toad 251 

71. The Wawona Hotel 255 

72. Big Tree, " Grizzly Giant" 257 

73. Driving Through the Living Big Tree "Wawona" 260 

74. Bear Hunt in the Fresno Grove 264 

75. Chil-noo-al-na Falls 266 

76. The Sierras from Signal Peak 269 

77. Rancheros Lassoing Cattle 276 

78. Fossilized Mastodon's Tooth and Portion of Jaw 281 

79. The California Road Runner 282 

80. A Tarantula's Nest 284 

8i, Bower Cave 287 

82. The Vernal Fall— Pi-wy-ack Opposite 290 

83. Indian Woman Panning Out Gold 294 

84. The Prospector 294 

85. Batea, or Mexican Mining Bowl 296 

86. Chinamen Washing Out Gold with a Cradle 296 

87. Sluice Mining and Ground Sluicing 298 

88. Water Flume for Mining Purposes 299 

89. Miner's Pan and Horn Spoon 301 

90. Miners Sinking a Shaft .... 302 

91. Miners Following Down the Ledge 2i°3 

92. Hydraulic Mining Opposite 306 

93. Pair of California Valley Quail 3°6 

94. The Boy that " Didn't Know Nuffink" 3°7 

95. California Red-Headed Woodpecker {Melanerpes fonnicivorns) .. 308 

96. Wall of Tahle Mountain Opposite 314 

97. Table Mountain, Tuolumne County, Cal I'^l 

98. A Chinese Couple 3^5 

99. Chinese Feast to the Dead 3'^ 

100. Moffitt's Tuolumne Canon Bridge, near Jacksonville. . .Opp. 32 

loi. The "Dead Giant" Big Tree Stump, Tuolumne Grove 328 

102. Horse on Snow-shoes ly^ 

103. Nevada Fall— Yo-wi-VE Opposite 338 

104. Scene on the Merced River 34' 

105. The Fissure 345 

106. The Big Tree Room (Barnard's Hotel) Oppo^^iie 349 

107. Nathan B.Phillips, "Pike" 354 

108. The Yo Semite Chapel 35° 


109. California Silver Fir ( Picea Bractcata) 359 

no. Cone OF " " 360 

111. Nature versus Art — "What do you use for Bait?" 364 

112. The Sentinel — Loya — El Capitan, and Valley Opposite 368 

1 13. Indian Canon 375 

1 14. Ford of Yo Semite Creek 378 

115. Near View of Yo Semite Fall 381 

116. North Dome, Royal Arches, and Washington Tower 3S4 

117. Mirror Lake — Ke-ko-too-yem — (Sleeping Water) 386 

1 18. The Three Brothers— Pom-pom-pa-sa 395 

119. Half Dome, and Cloud's Rest, from Glacier Point. . .Opposite 400 

120. Distant view of Bridal Veil Fall — Po-ho-no 403 

121. Near view of Bridal Veil Fall — Po-ho-no 404 

122. Merced River, View from El Capitan Bridge 410 

123. The Sentinel — Loya 413 

124. " " (Casting Reflections) 415 

125. Indian Tom 420 

126. Indian Woman Gathering Acorns 423 

127. Indian Store-houses for Acorns — Poo-see-na Chuck-ka 0pp. 424 

128. Indian Woman Carrying Acorns 425 

129. " Grinding Acorns AND Seeds 426 

130. Indians Preparing and Cooking Food 427 

131. " Catching Grasshoppers 429 

132. " AT a Fandango 431 

133. Indian Marriage Ceremony 432 

134. Indian Preparing Body for Cremation 435 

135. Indians Burning their Dead 436 

136. Cap of Liberty and Nevada Fall 444 

137. Silver Apron and Diamond Cascade 449 

138. The Ladders, in Winter 452 

139. Indian Escape Trail to Half Dome 456 

140. Ascending the Lower Dome 457 

141. Anderson Standing on the Edge of Half Dome, Looking West.. 458 

142. Pen Sketch of Anderson on Half Dome, Looking East 459 

143. The California Snow Plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) Opposite 466 

144. Sierras, from Glacier Point — Key to 470 

145. Half Dome, as seen from Too-lool-a-we-ack Canon 473 

146. The Too-lool-a-we-ack, or Glacier CaSon Fali 474 

147. Cave at Base of Upper Fall 477 

148. Map of the High Sierra 483 

149. Mount Lyell and its Glacier, from Tuolumne Meadows .Opp. 487 

150. The Norwegian Snow-shoe, used at Yo Semite, in Winter . . . 494 

151. Ice Cone of 550 feet Beneath the Upper Yo Semite Fall ... 495 

152. The End 496 







Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof 
That they were born for immortality. 

— Wordsworth 's Sonnet. 

To him who in the k)ve of nature holds 
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks 
A various language. 

— Bryaxi''s T/iaii(Uo}>-'</-'<. 

The roai'ing cataract, the mow topt hill. 
Inspiring awe, till breath itself stands still. 

— ^Bloomfield's Fiiniter's Boy, 

Voiced impressions of Horace Greeley Rev. Thomas Starr 
King, Prof. J. D. Whitney, Samuel B. Bowles, John S. Hittell, 
Prof. O. S. Fowler, Hon. Robt. Marsham, Prof. Wm. H. Brewer, 
James Vick, Rev. W. P. Abbott, Benjamin F. Taylor, James A. 
Garfield (President of the U. S.), Mrs. C. A. Chamberlain, Hon. 
Thomas Scott, Hon. Therese Yelverton, Helen Hunt Jackson, 
His Gi-ace the Duke of Sutherland, Albert D. Richardson, Sidney 
Andrews, Mrs. Jean Bruce Washburn, Charles L. Brace, Mary E. 
Blake, and others. It is with reluctance and sincere regret that 
the recorded sentiments of many other distinguished visitors to Yo 
Semite are necessarily omitted from this ri'pi-esentative galaxy. 

Of the grandest sights I have enjoyed — Rome from the dome 
of St. Peter's, the Alps from the valley of Lake Como, Mount 



Blunc and her glaciei's from Chamoiini, Niagara, and the Yo Semite, 
— 1 judge the last named the most unique and stupendous. It is a 
partially wooded gorge, 100 to 300 rods wide, and 3,000 to 4,000 
feet deep, between almost perpendicular walls of gray granite, and 
here and there a dark j^ellow pine, rooted in a crevice of either 
wall, and clinging with desperate tenacity to its dizzy elevation. 
The isolation of the Yo Semite, the absolute wilderness of its sylvan 
solitudes, many miles from human settlement or cultivation, its 
cascade 2,000 feet high, though the stream which makes this leap 
has worn a channel in the hard bed-rock to a depth of 1,000 feet, 
renders it the grandest marvel that ever met my gaze. — Horace 
Greeley, N. Y. Independent of March, 1860. 

Nowhere among the Alps, in no pass of the Andes, and in no 
cafion of the mighty Oregon Range, is there such stupendous rock 
scenery as the traveler here lifts his eyes to. — Eev. Thomas Starr 
IviNG, San Francisco. 

The peculiar features of the Yosemite are: Fii'st, the near ap- 
proach to verticalit}^ of its walls, next, their great height, not only 
absolutelj'', but as compared to the Avidth of the valley itself; and 
finally, the very small amount of debris or talus, at the bottom of 
these gigantic cliffs. These are the great characteristics of the val- 
ley throughout its whole length; but besides these, there are many 
other striking peculiarities and features, both of sublimity and 
beauty, which can hardl}^ be surpassed, if equaled, b}' those of 
any other mountain scenery in the world. — Prof. J. D. Whitney, 
State Geologist of California. 

The overpowering sense of the sublime, of awful desolation, 
of transcendent marvelousness and unexpectedness, that swept 
over us, as we reined our horses sharply out of green forests, and 
stood npon a high jutting rock that over-looked this rolling, up- 
heaving sea of granite Tuountains, holding, far down in its rough 
lap, the vale of meadow and grove and river — such a tide of feel- 
ing, such stoppage of ordinary emotions, comes at rare intervals 
in any life. It was the confrontal of God face to face, as in great 
danger, or sudden death. It was Niagara magnified. All that 


was mortal shrank back; all that was immortal swept to the front, 
and bowed down in awe. — Samuel B. Bowles, Springfield Rejmh- 

Yo Semite is the crowdiui^ of a multitude of romantic peculiar, 
and grand scenes within a very small space. — John S. Hittells 
Guide Book, 

The longer we look the greater the scenes appear. — Prof. O. 
S. Fowler, Bo>^(on, Mass. 

I wish to keep the view in my mind forever. — J. A. Bril- 
LINGER, Ewingsville, Pa. 

1 was never so near Heaven in ni}' life. — H. Windel, San 

I have spent seventeen days in Yo Semite, and 1 never left a 
place with so much regret in my life. 1 have several times visited 
all the noted places of Europe, and manj' that are out of the regular 
tourist's round: I have crossed the Andes in three different places, 
and been conducted to the sights deemed most remarkable: 1 have 
been among the charming scenery of the Sandwich Islands, the 
Himalaj'as of India, and the mountain disti-icts of Australia, but 
never have I seen so much of sublime grandeur, relieved by so 
much beaut}', as that I Lave witnessed in Yo Semite. — Hon. Eobt. 
Marsham, Maidstone, Kent, England. 

As a member of the State Geological Survey I have visited 
the Yosemite Valley four times — June, 1863, August, 1864, Sep- 
tember, 1864. and April, 1875 — and the valley seems grander on 
this fourth visit than it did on the fii'st. — Prof. Wm. H. Brewer, 
Yale College, New Haven, Conn. 

The road to Yo Semite, like the way of life, is narrow and 
difficult, but the end. like the end of a well-spent life, is glorious 
beyond the highest anticipation. — James Vick, Rochester, X. Y. 

Here speaks the voice of God, and here his power is seen. 
Let man be dumb. — Eev. W. P. Abbott. New York City. 


Yo Semite awaited us without warning, met us without com- 
ing. Spectral white in the glancing of the sun, the first thought 
was that the granite ledges ot" all the mountains had come to res- 
urrection, and were standing pale and dumb belbre the Lord. I 
turned to it again, and began to see the towers, the domes, the 
spires, the battlements, the arches, and the white clouds of solid 
granite, surging up into the air and come to everlasting anchor till 
"the mountains shall be moved." You hasten on; you hear the 
winds intoning in the choral galleries a mile above 3-our head; you 
hear the crash of waters as of cataracts in the sky; 3'ou tramjile 
upon bi'oad shadows that have fallen thousands of feet down, like 
the cast-oif garments of descending Night. — Benj. F. Taylor's 
Between the Gates. 

This is the crowning glory of all views on this continent. — 
Chas. Caspar, Meridian, Conn. 

If my business interests lay u]h)ii this coast, ] would build a 
I'ailroad to this ti'uly marvelous vidley. within one year from this 
date. — Hon. Thomas Scott, Pennsylvania Central B. R. 

I have s])ent the four happiest months of my life in this glori- 
ous valle}-. — Hon. Therese Yelyerton {Lody Avonmore). 

An indescribable delight took possession of me; the silence 
seemed more than silence; it seemed to quiver without sound, just 
as the warm air shimmered without stir, along all the outlines of the 
rocky walls. On yx\y left hand rose the granite watch-tower Loya 
(Sentinel Eock), on ray right the colossal buttress Tu-tock-ah- 
nu-la (El Capitan). The Cathedral Spires, the Three Brothers, all 
were in full sight. Wherever I stood, the mountain Avails seemed 
to shut close around me in a cii'cle. 1 said to myself, again and 
again: • Only betAveen 3.000 and 4,000 feet high!" But the figures 
had lost their meaning. All sense of estimated distance was 
swallowed up, obliterated, by the feeling of what seemed to be 
immeasurable height. — H. H.'s Bits of Travel. 

One might stay here for months and see new beauties eveiy 
day. — Mrs. A. W. (Iillktte. Grasn Lake, Mich. 


No one can study this valley and its surroundings without 
being broader-minded thereafter. — James A. (iarfield. President 
of the United States. 

I liiiger'd till a shaft of tire 

Shot o'er the mountaius — spire by spire, 

Burned in the swift and bi'oadening flame 

That onward swelled, till it became 

A wide and mellow amber tlood, 

That poured o'er mountain, stream, and wood. 

And lit the blue, deep dome above 

With Deity's warm smile of love; 

How fair that place — how radiant all 

The scene beneath that mountain wall 1 

Then suddenly awoke to me 

The pine wood's varied melody; — 

The murmurous music of the river. 

The aspen's low, light, dreamy quiver, 

The jay-bird's quick, discordant cry, 

The robin's tender minstrelsy 

I heard — and full, and deep, and strong — 

(Would I could ever keep that song! ) 

The pean of the water- fall 

Came to me 'neath that mountain wall. 

And flowers were there — the old dear flowers — 

The first I loved in childhood's hours; 

There glowed the wildling rose, that grew 

Beside my home when life was new; — 

golden heart — lips so red, 

Naught from thy precious smile had fled 

Through the long years; — thy odorous breatli 

Yet told of love that knows no death I 

O life, thy stern, thy gentle call 

Came to me, 'neatli that mountain wall ! 

— Mrs. C. a. Chamberlain, Snrrnmeiito. 

Eeal estate is very high hereabouts ! — Derrick Dodd, *S. F. 
Evening Post. 

This spoils one for any other scenery upon earth. — His Grace. 
THE Duke of Sutherland, England. 

Nature had here lifted her curtain to reveal the vast and the 
infinite. It elicited no adjectives, no exclamations. \Vith a be- 


wildering sense of divine power and human littleness, I could only 
gaze in silence till the view strained my brain and pained ray eyes, 
compelling me to turn awaj' and rest from its oppressive magni- 
tude. — Albert D. Richardson's Beyond the Mlssissq^pi. 

Speech may be silver, but in this marvelous vale, where 
grandeur and majesty have met, " Silence is golden." — E. Edmon- 
STON, Santa Barbara, Cal. 

Suddenly, as I rode along, 1 heard a shout, 1 knew the val- 
ley had revealed itself to those who were at the front of the hne. 
I turned my head away. 1 couldn't look until 1 had tied my 
horse. Then 1 walked down to the ledge and crawled out upon 
the over-hanging rocks. 1 believe some men walk out there — it's 
a dull sort of a soul who can do that, in all my life, let it lead me 
where it may, 1 think 1 shall see nothing else so grand, so awful, 
so sublime, so beautiful — beautiful with a beanty not of this earth 
— as that vision of the Valley. How long 1 sat there I never shall 
know. I brought the picture away with me; I have only to shut 
my eyes, and 1 see it as 1 saw it in that hour of hours. J think I 
shall see nothing else so sublime and beautiful, till, happily, 1 stand 
within the gates of the Heavenly City. — Sidney Andrews' Letter 
to the Boston Advertiser. 

1 may as well try to measure a rainbow with a two-foot rule 
as to take this in. — Wm. Darrack, New York City. 

My soul bowed down in wondering, humble awe, 
When first thy peaks and water-falls I saw; 
And every hour Init shows how vain 'twould be 
For my frail mind to hope to picture thee. 
Thy spell shall live when those who view thee now, 
Have passed with ages 'neath thy mighty brow, 
And like thy mists, in gorgeous gleamings curled, 
Our names have melted from this changing world. 

— ^Mrs. Jean Brcce Washburn, San Francmo. 

From the hotel there are excui-sions enough to occupy one for 
weeks among the beautiful scenes of the valley. One of the most 
enjoyable features of these excm-sions is simply riding up and 
down it, getting the new aspects which open freshl}'^ every half 


mile, and are diflfereut every hour of the day. The wonderful 
thiuiji; sihout the caiioi). and which will hereafter draw many an 
invalid here from distant lands, is its divine atmosphere. To me, 
just recoverini>; from a tedious fever, it seemed the very elixir of 
life — cool, clear, stimulating, and filled with light and glory from 
the sun of the south, Avhich here never seems in summer to have 
a cloud. The nights are cool, but midday would be too wai*m 
Avere it not for the delicious sea-breeze which every day at eleven 
blows in from the Golden Gate, 150 miles away. The gorge is 
fortunatel}' east and west, just opposite San Francisco, and about 
midway between the two flanks of the Sierras — here some seventy 
miles in width. Were it a north and south valky, even at its alti- 
tude (4,000 feet above sea level), it would be almost intolerable. 
Now, nothing can surpass its mild, invigorating climate, and har- 
monious atmosphere. The charm of the wonderful valley is its 
cheerfulness and joy. Even the awe-inspiring grandeur and 
majest}^ of its features does not overwhelm the sense of its exquis- 
ite beauty, its wonderful delicacy, and color, and life, and joy. 

As I recall those rides in the fresh morning, or the dreamy 
noon, that scene of unequaled grandeur and beauty is forever 
stamped on my memory, to remain Avhen all other scenes of earth 
have passed from remembrance — the pearl}" gi"!}^ and purple prec- 
ipices, awful in mass, far above one, Avith deep shadows on their 
rugged sui'faces, dark lines of gigantic archways or fantastic 
images drawn clearly upon them, the bright white water dashing 
over the distant gray tops seen against the dark blue of the un- 
fathomable sky, the heavy shadows over the valley from the 
mighty peaks, the winding stream and peaceful green sward with 
gay wild flowers below, the snow}' summits of the Sierras far 
away, the atmosphere of glory illuminating all, and the eternal 
voice of man}" watei"s wherever 3'ou walk or rest! This is the 
Yo vSemite in memory. — Charles L. Braces The Sew West. 

Dropped at our very feet, and clothed in such fair ])roportion3 
of majesty and beauty as made it more a spiritual joy than an 
earthly loveliness. The valle}' rested, silent and set apart, as if 
human eyes for the first time beheld it, wrapped in a veil of soft, 
purple mist, that made it seem, in spite of its nearness, like a vis- 


ion that would fade while we gazed. In front, Ei Capitan, erect 
and fearless, as became the wai'den of the magic world beyond, 
lifting its bare white fi-ont 3.300 feet in one superb perpendicular 
line from base to summit; opposite, the soft-falling, swaying foam 
of the falls bounding nearly 1^000 feet through the air before it 
struck the broken rocks below; beyond, the roimding curves of the 
Three Graces, the sweeping line of the South. .Dome, and far away 
the veiled summit of Cloud's Eest. piled with soft^ gray shadows. 
A broken line of shining water came like a silver thread, showing 
here and there in the de])ths of the lovely valley, and broadened 
into a small mirrored lake almost at our feet below. It was be- 
yond conception and utterance. The sense of solitude, of peace, 
and of an inspiration which sprang from both was so profound as 
to be oppressive. Even the most frivolous s})irits among us were 
struck with sudden calm, as if they stood at the portals of some 
divine mystery, and it was with a feeling almost of relief that we 
turned away at last, and went down the slope of the dizzy moun- 
tain to enter in at the gates below. — Mary E. Blakes 0;? fhe Wing. 

The only s])ot that 1 have ever found that came up to the 
brag. — liALPH Waldo Emerson. 

After such strikingly graphic, word-clothed impressions and 
confessions as those above pi'esented, a more detailed descriptive 
picture of this marvelous locality, and its matchless surroundings, 
would seem to be suggestive of an attempt to compass the impos- 
sible. Even a residence wdthin its sublime environments of nearly 
a quarter of a century, in winter as well as in summer, while 
making" me lovingly familiar with its many assthetic charms, and 
amazing natural phenomena, only convinces that approximate 
justice in delineation is simply unattainable. One may tell of 
its vertical or tree-studded walls, and their relative heights; of 
the hoary-headed and dome-crowned summits around it; of its 
lofty and picturesque waterfalls, feathered, it may be, with 
vapory rockets ; of its deep and bo wider- strewn tributary canons : 
of its defiant and cloud-draped crags and peaks; of its beautiful 
and tree-margined river; of its flower-carpeted and shrub-framed 


meadows; or press into valuable service the figures and compari- 
sons of experienced scientists, and determine the diameter, and 
angle, and altitude of. every cliff, or rock, and forest tree; but 
these are only facts. And one may explain the interesting inci- 
dents of its discovery; the geological theories of its formation; 
its many explicit lessons in botanical science; the habits, customs, 
life and legends of its Indians; and present the many characteristic 
phases of tourist experiences; but these, with hundreds of other 
kindred themes, are, after all, nothing but hard and uniVeling 
facts ; whereas Yo Semite, to the poet, is tlie grandest of lyrics : 
to the artist. Nature's ever-captivating picture gallery ; to the 
preacher, the most .suggestively eloquent of sermons ; and to the 
worshiper, the sublimest of temples — where God is always within. 
Who, then, can enter into the holy of holies of all of these \ He 
who might attempt it should not be unmindful of the divine 
command to Moses: "Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes 
from off thy feet, ibr the place whereon thou standest is holy 

Then who may fully apprehend the law by which the many- 
voiced choral symphonies of the wind-swept trees, or leaping 
water-falls, or bounding cataracts, or "babbling brooks," may be 
set to music ? Or conceive how the blessed sunlight, as it plays hide 
and seek aniong the shadow^s, or maps surrounding forms upon 
our path, or gilds the mossy trunks of stately trees, can be painted I 
And supposing it more than possible that the height, and depth, 
and breadth of the many time-cut furrows upon and in the 
grand old face of one of these mountain walls w^ere accurately 
determined, could the exact shade of purple, or gray, or golden, 
or roseate haze, that is ever sleeping among its wrinkles, or bur- 
nishing up its ridges, be faithfully portrayed? No, Mr. Gradgrind, 
you are, at best, compelled to "stick to facts," and leave individ- 
ual apprehension, good taste, and imagination to supply the rest. 
To present such facts concerning Yo Semite, and other sub- 
lime fastnesses of the High Sierra, as it is hoped will be wel- 
come to the reader, will be the devoted purpose of each subse- 
quent chapter of this book. 



I am not covetous for gold; 
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost; 
It yearns me not if men my garments wear; 
Such outward things dwell not in my desires; 
But if it be a sin to covet honor 
I am the most offending soul alive. 

— .Shake.spear's Henry V., Act IV. 

Tender-handed stroke a nettle, 

And it stings you for your pains; 
Grasp it like a man of mettle, 

And it soft as silk remains. 

— Aaron Hill, ivriUen upon it ivindow in Scotland. 

After the discovery of gold at Sutter's saw-mill, Coloma, 
California, January 19, 1848, by James W. Marshall — who died, 
poor, August 10th, 1885, at the age of 73 years — and the 
news of that auspicious event had winged its electrifying flight 
to the farthest corner of the civilized world, men, filled with 
ambitious hopes and yearnings, began to flock towards the new 
El Dorado from every clime and country. The beautiful and 
land-locked Bay of San Francisco was soon plowed by the prows 
of vessels of every class and tonnage, and its recently uneventful 
calm broken by the health-giving breezes of a new and vigorous 
commercial activity. 

"Awake but one, and lo! what myriads rise! 
Each stamps its image as the other flies! " 

The streets of the sleeping pueblo of San Francisco, filled by the 
in-flowing tide of humanity thus attracted, awoke it at once to 
a business energy that eventually grew into a habit, and laid the 
foundation of its present commercial prosperity. 



Feverish with enlarged expectations, and eager to realize the 
day-dreams of their susceptible imaginations, any and every kind 
of conveyance, by water or by land, was pressed into immediate 
service, for speeding them to the gold mines. Discomfort, ex- 
posure, pleasure postponed, disappointment, suffering, danger, and 
possible sickness or prospective death, held them in no restraint; 
like the proverbial youth who had heard in his native village 
that the streets of a certain city were paved with gold, would 
give himself no rest, either day or night, until it could be reached, 
and "a hat full of it " obtained. 

Beguiled by this fascination, that became almost an infatua- 
tion, side-hills and flats, ravines and gulches, canons and rivers, 
threading far among the spurs of the Sierras, became familiar to 
the footsteps of the dauntless prospector. Unbroken solitudes, 
untrodden fastnesses, far from civilized habitation or human 
succor, created in him no sense of fear, or thought of peril. The 
occasional sight of Indians, whether singly or in groups, evoked 
no surprise, invited no uneasiness, and elicited no suspicion. A 
casual, perhaps an inquisitive glance, might occasionally be 
thrown over the shoulder of the one to the other in indifferent 
recognition as they passed ; but that was in no way to be inter- 
preted as unfriendly. In time, presents of food and cast-off 
garments apparently became 


Between civilized and savage, and seemingly bound their common 
interests closer together. The absence even of grunted gratitude 
for favors received, excited no comment, and quickened no resent- 
ment. Civilities and gratuities imperceptibly indicated the open- 
ing of a broader pathway to mutual confidences and concessions 
between whites and Indians, that left no doubt of ultimate har- 
monious concert of action. Meanwhile, 

"The greatest of the angels of men — Success" — 

Had crowned the gold miner's efforts in unearthing the precious 
metal. This attracted a rapidly increasing multitude of devotees 


to its captivating standard ; and men poured in from every quar- 
ter, to enlist under its enchanting banner, and in full chorus 
to sing around their camp-fires: — 

" 'Tis time the pick-axe ami the spade. 

Against the rocks were ringing. 
And with ourselves the golden stream 

A song of labor singing; 
The mountain sod our couch at night; 

The stars keep watch above us; 
We think of home, and fall asleep — 

To dream of those who love us." 

The good fortune and wants of the miner developed the 
necessity for the packer and trader, with their assistants ; and, as a 
sequence, kept constantly swelling the army of occupation in the 
very haunts and homes of the Indian ; and without invitation 
divided with him his hunting and fishing grounds. Tents pitched 
and cabins erected, became sufficient foundation for the impres- 
sion that the new-comers were intending permanently to stay. 
There seems to have been no expressed or implied objections to 
this. The Indian men, moreover, had been pressed into willing^ 
service as miners and laborers, and the women to laundry work 
— for which, in many instances, they were liberally paid. All of 
these very naturally gave color to the assurance that a mutually 
advantageous community of interests had sprung up that was as 
gratifying as it was profitable. Bvit these eventuall}'^ proved to 


The rapid increase of horses, mules, and cattle — as well as 
men — presented visible evidences of accumulating prosperity and 
wealth among the whites, that were unshared by the Indian. 
This soon bore the poisonous fruit of jealous3\ Germs of unrest 
and discontent quickly ripened into resentment; and. with 
stealthy growth, hatred for the w^hites and cupidity for their pos- 
sessions began, irrepressibh', to extend to every mountain tribe 
throughout the State, and prepare the way for openl}' hostile 
demonstrations. It is howevt'i- but 



To the In lian, here to recorl — without in any measure attempt- 
ing to apologize lor, or condone, his misdeeds — that the spirit of 
reciprocal fairness was not an invariable characteristic of the 
whites, in their dealings and conduct with the inferior race. 
Every old Californian can bear blushing testimony to the truth- 
fulness of this too self-evident admission. This will be more 
than manifest from the official report of Maj. Gen. Thomas J. 
Green, to Gov. Peter H. Burnett, dated May :^5, 1850,* as follows: 
" Heretofore a few persons have monopolized much of their labor, 
by giving them a calico shirt per week, and the most indifferent 
of food." Brig. Gen. Thomas B. Eastland, in his report to his 
excellency Governor Burnett, dated June 15, 1850, -f- thus con- 
tinues: " It is a well-known fact that among our white popula- 
tion there are men who boast of the number of the Indians they 
have killed, and that not one shall escape." If, therefore, 

' ' 111 men we various Euling Passions find. 
And Ruling Passion conquers Reason still," 

No spirit of prophetic divination need be evoked, to foretell the 
ultimate results of such aggressive wrong-doing. Before pouring 
unmixed anathemas, therefore, upon the Indian's head, will not an 
intuitive sense of right first prompt us to 

" Find out the cause of this eft'ect; 
Or, rather say, the cause of this defect; 
For this eflPect defective comes by cause. " 


In the days of their numerical prosperity, moreover, it should 
be remembered that the Indians thoroughly understood and 
practiced a primitive method of telegraphing by fire and smoke. 
by which the fitful flashes of the one, and the gusty clouds of 
the other,:]: according to the number or intensity of the signals 

*See page 76!) of .Journals of the Legislature of California, for 1S5L 

tPage 770, Ibid. 

+This was done by covering a large fire with a wet hide, and lifting it at 


given, would readily communicate the kind of trouble they were 
in, and the nature of the assistance they required. All prominent 
peaks, and favorable points of bluffs on the margin of valleys, 
were signal stations; ami there was always a signal watcher on 
duty, both by day and by night. To this was supplemented a very 


Composed of their best-trained, swiftest-footed, and strongest- 
lunged young men, w^ho would run at the height of their speed 
irom one village to the other. These advantages naturally and 
effectively supplied speedy tribal communication, and enabled 
them not only to discuss with each other the social or political 
significance of such an unparalleled influx of strangers amongst 
them, but to report every overt act or aggressive movement of 
the whites, from San Diego to Siskiyou. 


Had been early reported from centi-al portions of the State, but 
as these had been visited by swift retaliation, the impetuously 
turbulent were, for the time being at least, checked in their 
marauding and murderous career. Meanwdiile the forces of their 
enmity were silently cumulating, like a storm over an almost 
cloudless sky, in the more southerly sections of California; event- 
ually to culminate and break among the gold mines of Mariposa 
County — then very large, and embracing the counties now 
known as Mariposa, Merced, Fresno, Tulare, Mono, and Inyo. 


Was led by the Yo Semites, in May, 1850, when an attack w^as 
made upon the trading-post of Mr. James D. Savage, located on 
the Merced River, about twenty-five miles below the Yo Semite 
Valley, under the pretense of claiming all the country in that 
vicinity; but in reality in the expectation and hope of plunder. 
By the personal pluck and energy of Savage, assisted by his 
Indian miners, the attack w^as successfully repulsed. 

The isolation of that station, and the knowni murderous 


tendencies of the Yo Semites, induced Savage to remove his store 
to Mariposa Creek, near Agua Fria, some six miles westerly of 
the village, now the prosperous town and county seat, of Mariposa. 
His unexampled success m this new location tempted him to es- 
tablished a branch post on the Fresno River, which also gave 
abundant promise of similar results. " In the midst of renewed 
prosperity " — says Dr. L. H. Bunnell, in his interesting narrative 
of "The Discovery of the Yosemite," from which I shall fre- 
quently quote in introductory chapters, and to which I heartily 
refer the reader — " he learned that 


" To strengthen his influence over the principal tribes, Savage 
had, according to the custom of many mountain men at that 
time, taken wives from among the Indians, supposing that his 
personal safety would be ^omewhat improved by so doing. This 
is the old story of the pi'psperous Indian trader. One of his 
squaws assured him that a tombination was maturing among the 
mountain Indians to kill a*- drive all the white men from the 


country, and plunder them t^f their property." These unmistak- 
able evidences of threatened * hostilities suggested the adoption of 
precautionary measures, and preparation for warlike surprises, 
^vithout exciting suspicion or alarm. In the hope of averting- 
impending danger, 


Having to visit San Francisco early in the ensuing Septem- 
ber (1850) for the purpose of securing a safe place of deposit for 
his rapidly accumulating C[uantities of gold-dust, exti-acted from 
the mines by himself and his Indian assistants, and received 
through his stores,* and also to purchase goods, he concluded to 

*The amount, as given by reliable authority, w as about six hundred pounds, 
Troy. As an illustrative example of one of Savage's habits, and an additional 
proof of the old adage, "Easily earned— carelessly spent," after his safe airivrd in 
San Francisco with his treasure, he souglit the gaming-table, where he became a 
heavy loser; as though reckless of consequences, he jumped upon the card table, 
and, standing upon a particular card, wagered his own weight in gold-dust on that 
card — and lost: 


take with him two of his Indian wives, and an influential Indian 
chief named Jose Juarez,* that by showing them the overwhehii- 
ing numbers and resources of the whites, he could impress upon 
them, and through them all the unfriendly disposed, the utter 
hopelessness of any bellicose movements on their part. This 
skillfully-planned stratageiu, although substantially carried out 
by Savage, was 


Inasmuch as Jose, having been liberally supplied with money by 
his generous patron, invested it as liberally in "fire water;" and, 
under its influence, became either stupidly unconscious or insult- 
ingly abusive. Remonstrance only stimulated a more emphatic 
indulgence in that graceless vice. When forbearance had ceased 
to be a virtue, and the wanton gratification of insulting epithets 
had reached their climax, in an unguarded moment, Savage felled 
him with a blow. This invited, and probably deserved punish- 
ment, was a source of constant s'^^lsequent regret; but, as 
the journey homeward developed r6 signs of any vengeful re- 
membrances, it was hoped that the unpleasant incident had been 
either overlooked or excused. Therefore, nothing doubting in 
that, or in the happy results of Jose's visit to the larger cities, as 
numerous Indians had collected around his Fresno store, seem- 
ingly to welcome them on their arrival, and to compare notes, 
and learn or tell the news, Savage concluded this to be 


About the sights they had seen, with a view of conciliating 
their prejudices — if any still existed — and convincing their judg- 
ments of the relative advantages that would naturally arise from 
a ffood understanding between the whites and the Indians. Alter 
presenting the case in a strikingly terse and forcible manner. 
Savage called upon Jose to bear testimony to the truthfulness of 
his explanations, and the undoubted strength of his arguments. 
To his surprise, however, " The cunning chief with much dignity" 

*A uame probably given him at oue of the old missions. 


— I again quote from Doc-tor Bunnell — " deliberatively stepped 
forward, with more assurance than he had shown since the bellig- 
erent occurrence at San Francisco, and spoke with more energy 
than Savage had anticipated, as l'ollo^vs: — 


" ' Our brother has told his Indian relatives much that is true ; 
■we have seen many psople; the white men are very numerous; 
but the white men we saw are of many tribes; they are not like 
the tribe that digs gold in the mountains. They will not help 
the gold-diggers, if the Indians make war against them. If the 
gold-diggei-s go to the white tribes in the big village they give 
their gold for strong water, and games ; when they have no more 
gold the white tribes drive the gold-diggers back to the moun- 
tains with clubs. They strike them down ' (referring to the police) 
'as your white relative struck m3 when I was with him.' (His 
vindicative glance assured Savage that the blow was not forgot- 
ten or forgiven.) ' The white tribes will not go to war with the 
Indians in the mountains. They cannot bring their big ships 
and big guns to us; we have no cause to fear them. They will 
not injure us.' " 

This was followed by a glowingly humorous and sarcastic 
picture of the pale faces, their tall hats, walking canes, eye- 
glasses, fancy clothes, and other supposed frivolous articles of the 
toilet; and the manners and customs of white people in large 
cities Were so grotesquely mimicked that he frequently convulsed 
his Indian auditors with laughter, broken occasionally with gut- 
tural utterances of contempt. 

No replying arguments of Savage, filled to overflowing as 
they were with kindness and common sense, could counteract the 
magical effects of such a speech. But, fearing that they might, 
Jose again stepped forward, and 


By exclaiming,* " He is telling you words that are not true. 
*Dr. L. H. Bunnell. 


His tongue is forked and crooked. He is telling lies to his Indian 
relatives. This trader is not a friend to the Indians. He is not 
our brother. He will help the white gold-diggers to drive the 
Indians from their countrv. We can now drive thepi Irom 
among us; and if the other white tribes should come to their help, 
we will go to the mountains; if they follow us they cannot find 
us; none of them will come i)ack; we will kill them with arrows 
and with rocks.' " These war-like utterances of Jose Juarez 
were warmly seconded by 


In the following speech, also reported by Dr. Bunnell: " My people 
are now ready to begin a war against the white gold-diggers. 
If all the tribes will be as one tribe, and join with us, we will 
drive all the white men from our mountains. If all the tribes 
Avill go together, the white men will run from us, and leave their 
property behind them. The tribes who join in with my people 
will be the first to secure the property of the gold-diggers." 

" The dignified and eloquent style of Jose Rey," continues 
Dr. Bunnell, " controlled the attention of the Indians. This 
appeal to their cupidity interested them ; a common desire for 
plunder would be the strongest inducements to unite against the 
whites. Savage was now fully aware that he had been defeated 
at the impromptu council he had himself organized, and at once 
withdrew to prepare ibr the hostilities he was sure would follow. 
As soon as the Indians dispersed, he started with his squaws for 
home, and again gave the settlers warning of what was threat- 
ened, and would soon be attempted. 

" These occurrences were narrated to me by Savage. The 
incidents of the council at the Fresno Station were given during 
the familiar conversations of our intimate acquaintanceship. The 
Indian speeches here quoted are, like all others of their kind, 
really but poor imitations. The Indian is very figurative in his 
language. If a literal translation were attempted, his speeches 
would seem so disjointed and inverted in their methods of 
expression that their signification could scarcely be understood^ 
hence only the substance is here given." 



It would seem that, notwithstanding the w^arnings given, the 
miners and settlers were unwilling to concede that an Indian war 
was possible, even w'ith such conclusive evidence 
"To mark the signs of coming mischief," 

As they were deemed as absurd as they were improbable. Even 
Cassady, a rival trader to Savage, " especially scoffed at the idea 
of danger, and took no precautions to guard himself or his 
establishment " — and was afterwards among the first murdered. 
In their minds there evidently lingered a doubt, and perhaps 
with it a mental questioning whether or not 

"The chance of war 
Is equal, and the slayer oft is slain," 

As active hostilities did not actually commence until the middle 
of December following. This will be apparent from an official 
letter by Col. Adam Johnston, sub. Indian Agent of the United 
States, under Gen. John Wilson, and addressed to His Excel- 
lency, Peter H. Burnett, then Governor of California; and as it 
is not only an interesting narrative, but lucidly explanatory, it is 
here transcribed. 


Sax Jose, January 2, 1851.* 
Sir: I have the honor to submit to you, as the Executive of the State 
of California, some facts connected with the recent depredations committed 
by the Indians, within the bounds of the State, upon the persons and prop- 
erty of her citizens. The immediate scenes of their hostile movements 
are at and in the vicinity of the Mariposa and Fresno. The Indians in 
that portion of your State have, for some time past, exhibited disaffection 
and a restless feeling toward the Avhites. Thefts were continually being 
perpetrated by them, but no act of hostility had been committed by them 
on the person of any individual, which indicated general enmity on the 
part of the Indians, until the night of the 17 December last. I was then at 
the camp of Mr. James D. Savage, on the Mariposa, where I had gone for 
the purpose of reconciling any difficulty that might exist between the 

*See .Journals of the Legislature of California for 1851, page 563. 


Indiana and the whites in that vicinity. From various conversations which 
I had held witii different chief's, 1 concluded there was no immediate dan- 
ger to be ajjprehended. On the evening of the 17th of December, we were, 
however, surprised by the sudden disappearance of the Indians. They left 
in a body, but no one knew why, or where they had gone. From the fact 
that Mr. Savage's domesticlndians had forsaken him and gone with those 
of the rancheria, or village, he immediately suspected that something of 
a serious nature was in contemijlation, or had already been committed by 

The manner of their leaving, in the uight, and by stealth, induced 
Mr. Savage to believe that whatever act they had committed or intended 
to commit, might be connected with himself. Believing that he could 
overhaul his Indians before others could join them, and defeat any con- 
tcmi)lated depredation on their part, he, with sixteen men, started in 
pui'suit. He continued upon their traces for about thirty miles, when he 
came upon their encampment. The Indians had discovered his approach 
and fled to an adjacent mountain, leaving behind them two small boys 
asleep, and the remains of an aged female, who had died, no doubt from 
fatigue. Near to the encampment Mr. Savage ascended a mountain in 
pursuit of the Indians, from which he discovered them upon another 
mountain at some distance. From these two mountain tops, conversation 
was commenced and kept up for some time between Mr. Savage and the 
chief, who told him they had murdered the men on the Fresno, and robbed 
the camp. The chief had formerly been on the most friendly terms with 
Savage, but would not now permit him to approach him. Savage said to 
them it would be better for them to return to their villages — that .with 
very little labor daily they could procure sufficient gold to purchase them 
clothing and food. To this the chief replied it was a hard way to get a 
living, and that they could more easily supply their wants by stealing 
from the whites. He also said to Savage he must not deceive the whites 
by telling them lies, he must not tell them that the Indians were friendly, 
they were not, but on the contrary were their deadly enemies, and that 
they intended killing and plundering them so long as a white face was 
seen in the country. Finding all efforts to induce them to return, or to 
otherwise reach them, had failed, Mr. SaA'age and his company concluded 
to return. When about leaving, they discovered a body of Indians, num- 
bering about two hundred, on a distant mountain, Avho seemed to be 
approaching those with whom he had been talking. 

Mr. Savage and company arrived at his camp in the night of Thursday, 
in safety. In the meantime as news had reached us of murders com- 
mitted on the Fresno, we had determined to proceed to the Fresno, where 
the men had been murdered. xVccordingly, on the day following, Friday, 


the 20th, I left the Marijwsa cami), with thirty-five men, for the camp on 
the Fresno, to see the situation of things there, and to bury the dead. I 
also dispatched couriers to Agua Fria, Mariposa, and several other mining 
sections, hoping to concentrate a sufficient force on the Fresno to pursue 
the Indians into the mountains. Several small companies of men left 
their respective places of residence to join us, but being unacquainted with 
the country, they were unable to meet us. We reached the camp on the 
Fresno a short time after daylight. It presented a horrid scene of savage 
cruelty. The Indians had destroyed everything they could not use, or 
carry with them. The store was stripped of blankets, clothing, flour, and 
everything of value; the safe was broken, open and rifled of its contents; 
the cattle, horses, and mules had been run into the mountains; the mur- 
dered men had been stripped of their clothing, and lay before us filled 
Avith arrows; one of them had yet twenty perfect arrows sticking in him. 
A grave was prepared, and the unfortunate persons interred. Our force 
being small, we thought it not prudent to pursue the Indians further into 
the mountains, and determined to return. The Indians in that part of 
the country are quite numerous, and have been uniting other tribes with 
them for some tiijae. On reaching our camp on the Mariposa, we learned 
that most of the Indians in the valley had left their villages and taken 
their Avomen and children to the mountains. This is generally looked 
upon as a sure indication of their hostile intentions. It is feared that 
many of the miners in the more remote regions have already been cut oft', 
and Agua Fria and Mariposa are hourly threatened. 

Under this state of things, I come here at the earnest solicitations of 
the people of that region, to ask such aid from the State Government as 
will enable them to protect their persons and property. 

I submit these facts for your consideration, and have the honor to 
remain. Yours very respectfully. 

To His ExceUeney, Adam Johxstox. 

Peter H. BrRXEXx. 


Upon the morning above mentioned in Colonel Johnston's 
letter, according to the testimony of Mr. Brown, the only survivor 
of the massacre, straggling groups of Indians, unattended by 
women and children, contrary to usual custom when on a peaceful 
mission, commenced wending their way, saunteringly, from different 
directions, towards Savage's store upon the Fresno. They entered 
it in their ordinary listless manner, as though for purposes of 


trade ; but, when within it, by some evidently preconcerted plan 
of attack, they sprang sininltaneously forward, and with hatchets, 
axes, crow-bars, and bows and arrows, lirst murdered Mr. Greeley, 
who was in charge of the store; then, turning upon the three 
other white men there present, named Canada, Stiffner, and 
Brown, killed all except the latter, whose life was saved by an 
Indian named Polonio,* to whom Brown had shown favors, jump- 
ing in between him and the attacking party, at the risk of his 
own personal safety, thus affording Brown the chance of escape, 
of which he confesses to have made the best use, by running all 
the way to Quartzburg at the top of his speed. Thereafter horses, 
mules, and cattle belonging to the whites, began to disappear, 
cal)ins were broken open and despoiled in the absence of their 
owners; solitary prospectors were waylaid, robbed, and murden-d; 
isolated settlers, and secluded miners delving in some far off and 
shadowy canon, unsuspicious of active race antagonisms, were 
sought out, overpowered, and slaughtered in cold blood. The per- 
petrators of these satanic crimes, going undetected and unpun- 
ished, for a time reveled in a frenzy of diabolical excesses. 

savage's other store pillaged and destroyed. 

Simultaneously with these outrages, Savage's other store and 
residence on the Mariposa, after the sudden disappearance of the 
resident Indians, as given in. Colonel Johnston's letter, were 
attacked, during the absence of the proprietor, and everything 
stolen. Similar onslaughts having been made at various points 
on the Merced, San Joaquin, Fresno, and Chow-chilla Rivers, it 
became too painfully evident that a general Indian war was 
being forced upon the whites. 

major burxey and JAMES d: savage raise a company. 

In this emergency Maj. James Burney, Sheriff* of Mariposa 
County, and Mr. James D. Savage, the trader, with other prom- 
inent citizens, immediately commenced to raise a company of 
volunteers, and at once led it into acti\'e and efficient service. 

*So christenetl l>y the whites probably from souk.- peculiar cliaraet^Tistic ot liis. 


As experiences of this courageous little band are graphically told by 
Major Burney, in a letter to His Excellency, John McDougal, 
Governor of the State, and emphatically certified to and indorsed 
by Hon. J. M. Bondurant, County Judge, and Richard H. Daly, 
County Attorney, no apology will be necessary for introducing it 
entire, from the Legislative Journals of California for 1851. 


Agua Feia, January 13, 1851. 

Sie: Your Excellency has doubtlessly been informed by Mr. John- 
ston,* and others, ol' repeated and aggravated depredations of the Indians 
in this part of the State. Their more recent outrages you are probably 
not aware of. Since the departure of Mr. Johnston, the Indian Agent, 
they have killed a portion of the citizens on the head of the San Joaquin 
Elver, driven the balance off, taken away all the movable property, and 
destroyed all they could not take away. They have invariably murdered 
and robbed all the small parties they fell in with between here and the 
San Joaquin. Xews came here last night that seventy-two men were 
killed on Rattlesnake Creek; several men have been killed in Bear Valley. 
The Fine Gold Gulch has been deserted, and the men came in here yes- 
terday. Nearly all the mules and horses in this part of the State have 
been stolen, both from the mines and the ranches. And I now in the name 
of the people of this part of the State, and for the good of our country, 
appeal to Your Excellency for assistance. 

In order to show Your Excellency that the people have done all that 
they can do to suppress these things, to secure quiet and safety in the 
possession of our property and lives. I will make a brief statement of what 
has been done here: — 

After the massacres on the Fresno, San Joaquin, etc., Ave endeavored 
to raise a volunteer company to drive the Indians back, if not to take 
them or force them into measures. The different squads from the various 
places rendezvoused not far from this place on Monday, 6th [December, 
1850], and numbered but seventy-four men. A company was formed, 
and I was elected Captain; J. W. Eiley, First Lieutenant; E. Skcane, 
Second Lieutenant. We had but eight days' provisions, and not enough 
animals to pack our provisions and blankets, as it should have been done. 
We, how^ever, marched, and on the following day struck a large trail of 
horses that had been stolen by the ludians.t I sent forward James D. 

*C'ol. Adam .Johnston. 

+Iu a suljsequent letter of Major Buruey, addressed to the Hon. W. J. How- 
ard, occurs the following passage: — 


tSavage, with a small spy force, and I followed the trail with my company. 
About two o'clock in the morning, Savage came in and reported the 
village near, as he had heard the Indians singing. Here I halted, left a 
sinall guard with my animals, and went forward Avith the balance of my 
men. We reached the village just before day, and at dawn, but before 
there was light enough to see how to fire our rifles with accuracy, we were 
discovered by their sentinel. When I saw that he had seen us, I ordered 
a charge on the village (this had been reconnoitered by Savage and myself). 
The Indian sentinel and my company got to the village at the same time, 
he yelling to give the alarm. I ordered them to surrender; some of them 
ran oif, some seemed disposed to surrender, but others fired on us; we fired, 
and charged into the village. Their ground had been selected on account 
of the advantages it jiossessed in their mode of warfare. They num- 
bered about 400. and fought us three hours and a half. We killed from 
40 to 50, but cannot tell exactly how many, as they took ofl" all they 
could get to. Twenty-six were killed in and around the village, and 
a number of others in the chaparral. We burned the village and 
provisions, and took four horses. Our loss was six wounded, two mor- 
tally; one of the latter was Lieutenant Skeane, the other a Mr. Little, 
whose bravery and conduct through the battle cannot be spoken of too 

We made litters, on which we conveyed our wounded, and had to 
march four miles down the mountain, to a suitable place to camp, the 
Indians tiring at us all the way, from the peaks on either side, but so far 
off as to do little damage. My men had been marching or fighting from 
the morning of the day before, without sleep, and with but little to eat. 
On the plain, at the foot of the mountain, we made a rude, but substantial 
fortification; and at a late hour those who were not on guard were per- 
mitted to sleep. Our sentinels were (as I anticipated they would be) 
firing at the Indians occasionally all night, but I had ordered them not to 
come in until they wei-e driven in. 

I left my wounded men there, with enough of ray company to defend 
the little fort, and returned to this place for provisions and recruits. I send 
them to-day reinforcements and provisions, and in two days more I march 
by another route, with another reinforcement, and intend to attack 
another village before going to the fort. The Indians are watching the 

"The first night out you came into mj' camp and reported that the Indians had 
stolen all your horses and mules — a veiy large number — that you had followed 
their trail into the hill country, but, deeming it imprudent to gt> there alone, had 
turned northward, hoping to strike my trail, having heard that I had gone out 
after Indians. I immediately, at sunset, sent ten men (yourself among the num- 
ber) under Lieutenant Skeane — who was killed in the fight next day — to look out 
for the trail, and report, which was very promptly carried out. 


movements at the fort, and I can come np in the rear of them unsuspeot- 
edly, and we can keep them back until I can hear from Your Excellency. 
If Your Excellency thinks proper to authorize me or any other person 
to keep this company together, Ave can force them into measures in a short 
time. But if not authorized and commissioned to do so, and furnished 
with some arms and provisions, or the means to buy them, and pay for the 
services of the. men, my company must be disbanded, as they are not 
able to lose so much time without any compensation. 

Very resiDCCtfully, your obedient servant, 

James Buexey. 

the first conflict almost a defeat. 

This battle took place on the upper waters of the Fresno ; and 
notwithstanding the measurable success of this hastily planned 
and impetuous attack, there is reason to fear that, owing to 
the absence of efficient discipline and drill, in so rapidly mustered 
a company of volunteers, but for the dauntless pluck and daring 
of this heroic band, it would have been a defeat. Nothing but 
reckless personal exposure, and hand-to-hand conflict, eventually 
brought a partial victory. After the conflict they were abun- 
dantly willing to retire to camp for rest, council, reorganization, 
and future discipline ; and the experience gained proved to be of 
inestimable value in the future conduct of the war. 


From apparently sympathetic anticipation of the sentiments 
and wants expressed in Major Burney's manly letter. His Excel- 
lency, Governor McDougal (having through Col. Adam Johnston's 
official communication, and other sources, already received infor- 
mation of the struggle progressing in Mariposa County) had issued 
an order — ^by a singular coincidence bearing exactly the same date, 
January 13, 1851,* as Major Burney's letter — autliorizing tho 
Sheriff" of Mariposa County to call out one hundred able-bodied 
militia, with which to meet the pressing exigencies of the times, 
and teach the Indians that, while the whites could be considerate 
of their interests in times of peace, they were prepared at all 

*See .Journals of the Legislature of California for 1S51, page 600. 


hazards to assert and maintain their rights the moment that war 
was forced upon them. 

To this prompt and considerate action was supplemented an 
appeaUng message from Governor McDougal to the State Legisla- 
ture, then in session, calling upon it for means to meet such press- 
ing emergencies; a communication addressed to the Indian Com- 
missioners, appointed by the General Government for co-operation ; 
and to Gen. Persifer F. Smith, commanding Pacific Division of 
the United States Army, informing him of the Indian disturbances, 
of his official orders calling out two hundred able-bodied militia, 
and asking him what aid might be expected from his department, 
the number of effective troops to be relied on, whether there could 
be furnished arms and ammunition to volunteers, and if so the 
character and number of arms and ammunition, and concluding 
with the question, " Will you deem it advisable to co-operate in the 
present emergency? "* 

Without awaiting a reply from Gen. P. F. Smith, such was 
the anxiety of the Governor lest any omission on his part should 
cause an unnecessary sacrifice of human life and property, he dis- 
patched Col. J. Neely Johnson, an officer of his staff' to the United 
States Indian Commissioners, Messrs. Wozencraft, McKee, and 
Barbour, with offers of safe-conduct to the scene of the disturb- 
ances, accompanied with the assurance that " Colonel Johnson 
will afford you every facility in his power to co-operate with you 
in all measures necessary to insure a return of those friendly 
feelings which are so desirable to us, and so essential to the happi- 
ness of both whites and Indians." Too much commendation of 
Governor McDougal's praiseworthy and intelligent assiduity can- 
not well be accorded him, not onlj^ foi* his unwearying watchful- 
ness, but for providing the "sinews of war," as well as for his 
continuous efforts to establish an early and enduring pc-ace. 

The Governor's offer was cordially accepted by the United 

*To this inquiry tlun-u seems to have been no response puhlishetl — at least 
none can be found by tiie writer. It is however matter of record that the State 
assumed th 3 responsibility for the disbursements of this war, but the expenses 
were afterwards alloM^ed by the United States (iovirnnient. 


States Indian Commissioners, who, under the escort of Col. J. 
Neely Johnson and a small body of State troops, as related else- 
where, set out on their peaceful mission as soon as possible, aftei- 
securing the services of some friendly mission Indians, as inter- 
preters and messengers, and the providing of suitable presents and 
supplies. While they are repairing thither, let us return, at least 
in imagination, to the camp of the volunteers. 

In the interim of Major Burney's absence at the settlements, 
for munitions and reenforcements, no time was lost by the little 
corps remaining at their post among the Indians, in drilling, 
reorganizing, and otherwise preparing for future contact Avith 
the foe. Growing tired, however, of the commonplace inactivities 
of camp life, and longing for the excitements attendant on an 
encounter with the enemy, but a few restful days were allowed 
to pass before they were again upon the march. 

The Indian trail was soon struck, and upon the top of a 
rugged knoll, near the north fork of the San Joaquin River, sur- 
I'ounded by a dense undergrowth of shrubbery, among rocks and 
trees, they found the adversary in force, apparently numbei'ing 
about five hundred. Defiant taunts of their late defeat, intermixed 
with sneering accusations of cowardice, were menacingly hurled 
at the whites ; and the Indians even boasted of their robberies and 
murders, and challeno-ed Savage, who was then in command, to 
come up and fight them. But as it was late in the day when the 
Indians were discovered, and feeling, Avith Shakespeare, that 

" The better part of valor is discretion," 

Instead of commencing an immediate attack, a careful reconnois- 
sance was made before nightfall, and the assault postponed. 

Almost befor^ morning light revealed the position of then' 
antagonists, thirty-six men were detached for preliminary opera- 
tions, under Captain Kuykendall, to be folloAved by the reserves, 
under Major Savage and Captain Boling — and fortunately the 
Indian camp was reached by Kuykendall's command without dis- 
covery. Dashing into their midst, and seizing lighted brands 
from their own camp-fires, the wigwams were set on fire, and, by 


their light, they attacked the now alarmed camp. So rapidly 
and so bravely were the charges made that the panic-stricken 
warriors fled precipitately from their stronghold. ".Jose Rey was 
amono- the first shot down," savs Dr. Bunnell. "The Indians 
made a rally to recover their leader ; Lieutenant Chandler, observ- 
ing them, shouted, ' Charge, boys ! Charge 1 1 ' wdien the men rushed 
forward, and the savages turned and fled down the mountain, 
answering back the shout of Chandler to charge by replying, 
' Chargee ! Chargee I' as they disappeared. The whole camp was 
routed, and sought safety among the rocks and brush, and by 
flight. This was an unexpected result. The whole transaction 
had been so quickly and recklessly done that the reserves under 
Boling and Savage had no opportunity of participating in the 
assault, and but imperfectly witnessed the scattering of the terrified 
warriors. Kuykendall, especially, displayed a coolness and valor 
entitling him to command — though outrun by Chandler in the 
assault. The fire from the burning village spread so rapidly down 
the mountain side towards our camp as to endanger its safety. 
While the whites were saving their camp supplies, the Indians, 
under cover of the smoke, escaped. No pi'isoners were taken ; 
twenty-three were killed; the number wounded was never known. 
Of the settlers but one was really wounded, though several were 
scorched and bruised in the fight. None were killed. The scatter- 
ing flight of the Indians made further pursuit uncertain. Sup- 
plies being too limited for an extended chase, as none had reached 
the little army from those who had returned, and time Avould be 
lost in waiting, it was decided to go back to the settlements before 
taking further active measures. The return was accomplished 
without interruption." 

Their safe arrival home again was the spontaneous signal for 
a general jubilee, intensified by the cheering intelligence of the com- 
plete victory won over the savages; and augmented, on the fol- 
lowing day, by the \velcome tidings that the Governor's authority 
had arrived^ to organize and equip a volunteer force against the 



HI news is winged with fate, and flies apace. 

— Dryden. 

Over all things brooding slept 
The quiet sense of something lost. 

— Tennyson's In Memoriam. 

Peace hath higher tests of manhood 
Than battle ever knew. 

— Whittiee's The Hero. 

Intelligence of the utter discomfiture of so large a force of 
their best warriors and ablest chiefs, by "a mere handful" of 
white men, tiew with inexpressible rapidity to all the disaffected 
Indians ; and; with the news, carried dismay and sadness to many 
hearts ; not, however, to accelerate their conversion to honest traits, 
or peaceful paths. Memories of the rich harvests of booty and of 
pillage, so recently gathered through spoliation and carnage, still 
held them in irresistible bondage. Wrong-doing, therefore, to 
them was only a question of convenience and opportunity. It is 
true their recent and terrible disasters became forcibly suggestive 
of others still in reserve, should they defiantly persist in repeating 
their marauding and murderous exploits. The temporary with- 
drawal of the whites from further present pursuit, while it gave 
the Indians favorable opportunity for binding up their wounds, 
ana for recuperating their wasted energies and lost courage, also 
supplied them with leisure to brood over their losses, and to weigh 
the contingent results, to themselves, of their flagitious courses. 
Leaving them, therefore, to their self -criminating reflections, it 
may not be inopportune, at this juncture, to recur to the protective 
measures in active preparation at the settlements. 

While the volunteers were enjoying the sweet repose that 



generally follows successful physical and mental labor, and in 
their case its attendant convivialities, a new excitement made its 
advent among them, and came almost like an inspiration or rev- 
elation; it was an order from His Excellency, Gov. John Mc- 
Dougal, bearing date January 13, 1851, to Maj. James Burney, 
Sheriff of Mariposa County, to enlist one hundred men, which, 
by a subsequent order of January 24, 1851, was increased to 


" And to organize them at the earliest practicable moment into 
independent companies, not to exceed four ; and, under officers of 
their own selection, to proceed at once to punish the offending 
tribes."* This inspiriting mandate "was not only a recognition 
and indorsement of the past, but an encouraging augury for the 
future, to those who had so recently borne the brunt of victorious 
battle with the foe; and became a strong incentive for their 
immediate re-enlistment. And it is but an act of well-merited 
honor to those brave men here to make emphatic declaration, that 
much of the success attending the rapid mustering into service of 
the required quota, was largely attributable to the chivalric zeal 
and energy, of both officers and men, forming the pioneer com- 
pany of Mariposa volunteers. 


The full complement of volunteers authorized, numbering 
two hundred and four, rank and file, reported to Maj. James Bur- 
ney, at Savage's old store — then in partial ruins — near Agua 
Fria, February 10, 1851, equipped, mounted, and ready for service. 
Here the Mariposa Battalion was organized. It was formed into 
three companies: A, with seventy men; B, with seventy-two; 
and C, with fifty-five, exclusive of surgeons, quartermaster, etc. 

When the time arrived for the election of officers Major 
Burney, to whom the honor of commanding the battalion natu- 
rally belonged, magnanimously declined to be a candidate, par- 

* See .lournals of the California Legislature for IS.")1, page 070. 


tially owing- to the pressing duties of his office as Sheriff of so large 
a county, but mainly for the purpose of insuring harmony, by 
avoiding all jealous and ambitious livalries. 


Jn this emergency James D. Savage was elected Commander, 
not only on account of his soldierly qualities, but for his knowl- 
edge of the habits, customs, haunts, and language of the Indians, 
as well as of the country to be traversed. The following is the 
muster-roll of the battalion: * Major, James D. Savage; Adjutant, 
M. B. Lewis; Surgeon, Dr. A. Bronson, who afterwards resigned 
and was succeeded by Dr. Lewis Leach; Assistant Surgeons, 
Drs. Pfifer and Black; Sergeant-Major, Robt. E. Russell. Cap- 
tains — Co. A, seventy men, John I. Kuykendall ; Co. B, seventy- 
two men, John Bowling ; Co. C, fifty -five men, William Dill ; 
First Lieutenants, John I. Scott, Co. A; Reuben T. Chandler, 
Co. B ; Hugh W. Ferrell, Co. C. Thus officered, 


The troops supplied their own horses and equipments, and the 
State the provisions and baggage wagons. Owing to the uncer- 
tainty of payment at that early day, and other untoward circum- 
stances, almost fabulous prices wei'e charged for articles purchased 
in the mining districts. 

A large grassy meadoAV, located on Mariposa Creek, some 
fifteen miles below the village of Mariposa, was made the first 
head-quarters of the battalion, where drilling, mana-uvering, and 
other preparatory exercises necessary for efficient military service, 
were duly put into practice. Occasional scouting parties would 
sally out for short distances in search of the enemy, known to be 
amazingly near, from the numerous thefts committed in cattle 
and horses; but these seemed to have had no more decisive result 
than the cultivation of watchfulness, and exercise, and the retire- 
ment of the Indians farther into the mountains. Meanwhile, 

* "Elliott's Hi-stfry of Fresno C'ouatv," pages 177, 178. 

44 JjV the heart OF THE SIERRAS. 


While all these warlike tactics were progressing, potential 
humanitarian influences were giving Inrtli to a nobler policy than 
a mere conflict of races, and one more in consonance with the 
enlightened spirit of the age. Communications, glistening with 
enlarged views and generous impulses on this question, began to 
flow in a steady stream to the Executive, and fi'om persons of 
high ofticial position, such as, for instance, that indicated m the 
following extract from the 


The Indians liave been more "sinned against than sinning " since the 
settling of California by the whites, is the oi)inion of many old inhabit- 
ants, as well as miners, who have lived in their midst, and watched the 
rise and progress of the many disturbances that have occurred; they are 
naturally inoffensive, and perhaps less warlike than any other tribes on 
the continent; indeed, they have not even the resources necessary for 
defense; the bow and arrow are their only arm; they are destitute of ani- 
mals even for transportation purposes; they have no means of support 
within themselves, save the transitory f(-uits of the seasons, some few 
esculent plants and acorns, the latter being garnered up for their winter 
supplies, by which they must stay or starve; they are to a man, almost, 
in a state of nature, without a single comfort in the way of clothing, and 
during the cold months huddle together in their holes, as their only pro- 
tection against the inclemency of the weather; in fact, all their habits 
are peaceful, and in their whole character it is not discoverable that nat- 
urally they possess the first element of a warlike people; but the germ of 
a hostile spirit has been created in them, that, without some prompt and 
decisive action on the part of the General Government, will grow and 
spread among them a deadly hate towards the whites, which erilong 
may cause our frontier to be marked with lines of blood. If they are apt 
scholars they will not only be taught how to fight, but in time will mr.ster 
many warriors, each Avith his firelock and butcher-knife, taken from the 
bodies of murdered white men. 

I have the honor to be Your Excellency's obedient servant, 

Thomas B. Eastland, 
Brig. (Jen. 1st. Division, Cal. Ma. comm''g. 

Such well-timed and considerate sentiments carried with 

* See .Journals of the Legislature of California for 1851, page 770. 


them the force of conclusive argument, and gave full strength to 
the moulding of a more generous future for the campaign. At 
this important juncture, such was Governor McDougal's anxiety 
lest every possible contingency should not be anticipated and 
provided for, that he invited earnest conferences with other State 
officers, and with all the most influential members of both Senate 
and Assembly, upon this all-absorbing question, regardless of any 
political differences whatsoever. Moreover, upon the eve of 
Colonel Johnson's departure, His Excellency issued the following 


San Jose * January 25, 1851. 

The force provided mayor may not be sufficient; the difficulties of 
communication with the scene of the disturbances are so great as to render 
it almost if not quite impracticable to be perfectly advised of the exact 
state of affairs. I am left, therefore, to act as the emergency seems to 
require, and without that degree of particular and minute information so 
important to the prom])t and efficient suppression of Indian hostilities. 
Such being the case, and being desirous to do all in my power to afford 
our citizens protection in life and property, I have deemed it advisable to 
dispatch an officer of the staff to the scene of disturbances, Avith the view 
to ascertain, collect, and report all facts respecting them, which are or 
may be required to direct intelligently the further operations of the 
State authorities. You have been selected for this purpose. 

You will proceed at once, and by the most expeditious route, to the 
county of Mariposa, where you will communicate with the officer in com- 
mand of the forces which have been recently ordered out. If possible, let 
the Indians be conciliated. Indian war is at all times to be deprecated, 
but especially so by us now, in the infancy of our career as a State, and 
before the General Government has provided us with the necessary means 
of protection and defense. We are in no condition to be harassed by 
expensive and protracted disturbances, which, when the best provision 
has been made for them, prove seriously detrimental to the best interests 
of the people among whom they exist. I cannot, therefore, too strongly 
impress upon you, and through you upon our citizens, to avoid studiously 
the commission of any act calculated to excite and exasperate unnecessa- 
rily the Indian tribes. 

While the measures it may become necessary to adopt shall be firm, 

* Then the seat of State Government. 


let them be tempered with kindness and forbearance, manifesting at all 
times a disposition to restore relations of friendship, and perpetuate a 
mutual good understanding. The great object is to effect a peace with the 
least bloodshed, and at the least expense, and no means should be left 
untried to bring it about. In this connection I would suggest that, before 
leaving San Francisco, an interview be had by you with the United 
States Commissioners on this subject, who will, no doubt, cordially co- 
operate with you in whatever shall serve to effect an object so desirable. 
You will also assure them that every facility within your power will be- 
extended to them, in the execution of their mission; and for this purpose, 
if they deem it necessary, you will order out such force as will securely 
protect their persons and property. If the Indians are still found to be 
obstinate and intractable after your endeavors, as well as the endeavors 
and means used by the Commissioners, to bring about an amicable adjust- 
ment of the existing difficulties, it will then become your duty to decide 
upon the line of offensive policy to be pursued. Where pacific measures 
fail, a vigorous prosecution of the war is our most efficient remedy. As 
before remarked, the force already ordered out may be sufficient for all 
purposes, but this is a matter which I have not the means of determining; 
it must be left to your discretion and better judgment after you shall have 
clearly ascertained, by personal observatioj^, the actual exigency. Should 
an emergency exist now, or arise hereafter, requiring an additional num- 
ber of troops, which will not admit of the delay necessary to communicate 
with me, you are authorized to call out such additional numbers as may be 
necessary. But it is to be iioped this Avill not be required; and unless 
absolutely demanded by circumstances, of which you must be the judge, 
the call will not of course be made. "We have every reason to believe 
that as soon as at all practicable, the General Government will take steps 
to aflFord us adequate protection; at present, however, efficient aid need 
not be expected. There are bvit few United States troops in the State, and 
those few are stationed at points distant from each other, and remote from 
the scene of disturbances, requiring time to collect and fit them tor 
actual service; time, too, which may be all-important in speedily termi- 
nating our difficulties with the Indians, and thus saving many valuable 
lives, as well as preserving much valuable property. . . . Further 
advice, if it is deemed necessary, will be sent to you by express. 
I have the honor to be, &c., 

John MoDougal. 

The tendency of these well-timed and comprehensive instruc- 
tions to Colonel Johnson gave assurance of a two-fold advantage: 
first, in giving him the power to augment the State forces com- 


mensurately Avith the strength developed by the enemy; and 
second, in securmg- to the Indian Commissioners the ability to 
compel obedience, should their pacific labors become ineffectual. 

Conferences between the Governor of the State and the Indian 
Commissioners sent out by the General Government became both 
frequent and effectual, and superinduced the adoption of a more 
just and more benignant policj^ toward the Indians. Finally, an 
agreement was made between the Executive of California, Gov- 
ernor McDougal, and the U. S. Indian Commissioners, Messrs. 
Wozencraft, McKee, and Barbour, that the latter, in the interests 
of humanity, should take full command of the State troops, then 
in the field near Mariposa. Accordingly, instructions were dis- 
patched immediately to Major Savage, informing him of this 
arrangement, and ordering him to suspend all active hostile dem- 
onstrations against the enemy, until further directed. 

Thus provided, thei-efore, against all possible contingencies, 
the Commissioners lost no unnecessary time in making 


Stores of many kinds, adapted to Indian tastes and wants, 
as well as to their own, had to be selected and dispatched. And, 
for conferring more readily with the mountain tribes, the serv- 
ices of a few peaceful mission Indians were secured, as messengers 
and interpreters, so that through these they could the more read- 
ily find access to the hearts and prejudices of the hostile Indians. 
Much anxious care and intelligent inquiry were needed in this, to 
insure such material as was best adapted to the work ; because 
success or failure might largely depend upon their efficiency and 
adaptability to the important task. All things being in readiness, 
the U. S. Indian Commissioners, under the escort of Colonel John- 
son, and a small detachment of State troops, repaired as rapicUy 
as possible to the camp of the Mariposa Battalion. 

After a cordial though inforu;al welcome, Colonel Johnson 
introduced himself, the Commissioners, and the subject in the 
following explanatory 



Soldiers and Gentlemen: Your operations as a military organiza- 
tion will henceforth be under the direction of the United States Commis- 
sioners. Under their orders you are now assigned to the duty of subduing 
sucli Indian tribes as could not otherwise be induced to make treaties 
with them, and at once cease hostilities and depredations. Your otticers 
Avill make all reports to the Commissioners. Y^our orders and instructions 
Avill hereafter be issued by them. Y'our soldierly and manly appearance 
is a sufficient guarantee that their orders will be conscientiously carried 
out. While I do not hesitate to denounce the Indians for the murders 
and robberies committed by them, we should not forget that there may 
perhaps be circumstances which, if taken into consideration, might to 
some extent excuse their hostility to the whites. They probably feel that 
they themselves are the aggrieved party, looking upon us as trespassers 
upon their territory, invaders of their country, and seeking to dispossess 
them of their homes. It may be that they class us with the Spanish 
invaders of Mexico and California, whose cruelties in civilizing and 
Christianizing them are still traditionally fresh in their memories. As I 
am soon to leave you I will now bid you "good-bye," with the hope that 
your actions will be in harmony with the wishes of the Commissioners, and 
that in the performance of your duties, you will in all cases observe mercy 
where severity is not justly demanded. 


The mission Indians, so called, who acted so important a 
part at this crisis in preliminary peace negotiations, were those 
who had been gathered into the fold of the Catholic Church, estab- 
lished by the Spanish missionaries between the years 1768 and 
1780, under the able leadership of Junipero Serra — who also dis- 
covered and named the bay of San Francisco, in October, 1769. 
These Indians, under a rude kind of both religious and secular 
civilization, having shared its advantages, had taken no part 
whatsoever in the hostilities of the times. Many had formerly 
belonged to the mountain tribes, and could speak their language, 
yet had no sympathy with the hostiles. Among these there 
seems to have been one named Russio, who was pre-eminently 
qualified for the service of messenger and interpreter; and who, 

* Uoported by Dr. L. H. Bunnell. 


owing to his dLscriininating apprehension of the good intentions 
and motives of the Commissioners, his superior intelligence, and 
convincingly persuasive manners, became an invaluable auxiliary 
in the establishment of peace relations. 

With a less intelligent Indian named Sandino, and other 
assistants, Russio set out for the nearest Indian villages, where, 
by his gi'aphic pictures of the invincible power of the whites, and 
the utter folly of resisting and fighting them; the liberal supplies 
of blankets, provisions, and ornaments for their women and chil- 
dren, to be most generously distributed among them ; with 
assurances of kindly treatmi^nt and protection, he induced many 
to visit the Commissionei's, converse with them (through Russio), 
and finally to accept the proffered conditions. It is true some 
were very shy, and, being conscience-smitten for the culpable part 
they had previously taken, were suspiciously doubtful of rc^sults; 
but the lavish distribution of presents, and the uniform good 
treatment received by those who had submitted, eventually 
charmed others into satisfied acquiescence. 

At this time the California Indians numbered, according to 
Major Savage's representation,* as follows: San Joaquin River, 
and its tributaries, 6,500; Tuolumne, 2,100; Merced, 4,800; 
King's River, 2,000; Kern, 1,700; Tulare, 1,000; Umas, 5,000; 
on the east side of the Sierra Nevada — embracing Owen's Lake 
and River, Walker, Carson, and Truckee — 31,000; Klamath, Trin- 
idad, Sacramento, and branches, 30,000; Clear Lake, Trinidad 
Bay, and Russian River, 6,000; making a total of 90,100. (-f 
these the San Joaquin, Tuolumne, Merced, King's, Kern, Tulare, 
and Umas of Tulare Lake, nundiering some 23,000, not only 
sympathized with the hostile Indians, but, for the most part, tt)ok 
active measures against the miners and settlers of Mariposa 

Among the earliest arrivals was Kee-chee, Avhom Dr. Bun- 
nell calls Vow-ches-ter, but whose Christian name, given him at 
the missions probably, was Baptista, according to Dr. Wozen- 

* " Elliott's History of Fresao Count}'," paye 181. 


craft, one of the Indian Commissioners, and was pronounced 
Beauteesta, who w^as the recognized leader of all the Mariposa 
bands. Kee-ehee had been generally friendly to the whites, but, 
through the influence of Jose Rey, he had united his fortunes 
with the unfriendly Indians. It is reasonably presumable, how- 
ever, to suppose, that the havoc made among his people, at almost 
their first encounter, had not been without its impressive lesson; 
inasmuch as, when assured of forgiveness, safety, and beneficent 
treatment, he not only submitted willingly to the policy of the 
Commissioners but promised to bring in as many of his people as 
he possibly could. But, according to Dr. Bunnell, when ques- 
tioned al)out the mountain Indians, he made answer: "The moun- 
tain tribes would not listen to any terms of peace involving the 
abandonment of their territory ; that in the fight near the north 
fork of the San Joaquin, Jose Rey had been badly wounded and 
would probably die; that his tribe w^as very angry, and would 
not make peace." 


Russio said:* " The Indians in the deep rocky valley on the 
Merced River do not wish for peace, and will not come in to see 
the chiefs sent by the great father to make treaties. They think 
the white men cannot find their hiding-places, and that therefore 
they cannot be driven out' " The other Indians of the party con- 
firmed Russio's stat.'uients. Yowchestjr [Kee-chee] was the 
principal spokesman, and he said: "In this deep valley spoken of 
by Russio, one Indian is more than ten white men. The hiding- 
places are many. They Avill throw rocks down on the white men, 
if any should come near them. The other tribes dare not make 
war upon them, for they are lawless like the grizzlies, and as 
strong. We are afraid to go to this valley, for there are many 
witches there! " 

In the earnest and hopeful expectation of peacefully gathering 
in the disaffected tribes and permanently providing for their com- 
fort and safety, the Indian Counnissioners established 

* Dr. liuimell. 



On the Fresno River — a few miles easterly of where the present 
town of Madera is situated, and now known as the Adobe Ranch, 
owned by Mr. J. G. Stitt — to which all pacifically disposed Indians 
could resort, and find shelter and protection. This became the 
place of general rendezvous for both soldiers and Indians. Yet, 
notwithstanding these timely and humane preparations, and their 
acceptance by some, the many still hesitated, doubtingly, of the 
ultimate intentions of the whites, and kept themselves hidden in 
their silent retreats. The positive statements of Russio and Kee- 
chee placed^ it beyond peradventure that the Yo Semites had not 
abated their hostile feelings and determinations one iota ; to which 
their failure in response to the many invitations sent, became 
additional proof. 

Therefore, being weary with waiting, and annoyed constantly 
with depredations committed upon the cattle and horses of the 
miners and settlers, as well as those belonging to the command, 
the Commissioners resolved ujion aggressive movements, and 


This was delightful music to the ears, and great joy to the 
hearts of the volunteers, who had been impatiently chafing at 
their prolonged inactivity, so that when the injunction was given to 
" mount," every saddle was filled, with alacrity. 

The entire absence of roads in those days compelled them to 
march in Indian, or single, file, and over the most indittlnvnt of 
trails. Notwithstanding this, and the evidences of a gathering- 
storm, the order, " Forward, march," was cheerfully obeyed. Under 
the directions of Major Savage, the advance was made in silence; 
"For," said he, " we must all learn to be still as Indians, or we shall 
never find them." Braving with becoming unanimity the heavy 
rain, that was now coming down in torrents, their fearlessness 
was rewarded by the welcome discovery of "Indian signs." 
They were then on the south fork of the Merced River, about 
two miles below where Wawona Station (Clark's) now is. As 


night was advancing, and the rain was turning into snow, they 
went quietly into camp. At dayhght the following morning, 
after leaving their animals and encampment in charge of a strong- 
guard, two of the companies under Captains Boling and Dill, with 
one of Savage's Indians named " Bob " as guide, advanced with- 
out any hesitation, or effort at concealment, to the Indian village. 

"On discovering us," Dr. Bunnell remarks, "the Indians 
hurriedly ran to and fro, as if uncertain what course to pursue. 
Seeing an unknown force approaching, they threw up their hands 
in token of submission, crying out at the same time in Spanish, 
• Face! pace! ' (peace ! peace '■). We were at once ordered to halt, 
while Major Savage went lorward to arrange for the surrender. 
The Major was at once recognized, and cordially received by such 
of the band as he desired to confer with officially. We found the 
villag'e to be that of Pon-wat-chee, a chief of the Noot-chii tribe, 
whose people had formeily worked for Savage under direction 
of Cow-chit-ty, his brother, and from whose tribe Savage had 
taken Ee-e-ke-no, one of his former wives. The chief professed 
still to entertain feelings of friendship for Savage, and expressed 
himself as now Avilhng to obey his counsels. 

" Savage at once told the chief the object of the expedition, and 
his requirements. His terms were promptly agreed to, and before 
we had time to examine the captives or their wigwams, they had 
commenced packing their supplies, and removing their property 
from their bark huts. This done, the torch was applied by the 
Indians themselves, in token of their sincerity in removing to the 
reservation on the Fresno." 

After this bloodless victory, the captured chief, Pon-wat-chee, 
volunteered the information to Savage of a camp of the Po-ho-no- 
chees on the opposite side of the river, not far below his old village. 
Messengers were immediately dispatched there; and as the Po-ho- 
no-chees, through their runners, had already learned of the surprise, 
and peaceful abduction of the Noot-chiis, and of their kindly 
treatment by the whites, they timidly, yet unhesitatingly, gave 
themselves up. 

Messengers and runners were now sent out in all directions to 


discover the hiding-places of other Indian bands, with instructions 
to promise safety, protection, food, and clothing, if they surren- 
dered, and extermination if they refused. This significant mandate 
had its desired effect ; and although their movements were charac- 
terized by timidity and fear, all found in this immediate vicinity 
quietly surrendered. 

These encouraging auguries gave measurable promise of like 
successes with the defiant Yo Semites, and other Indians, still 
hidden in their mountain fastnesses. Similar messages to the 
above had been conveyed to the Yo Semites; but, as yet, not a 
.single Indian had consented to present himself, and accept the 
proffered conditions. To avoid compulsory measures and possible 
slaughter, it was deemed desirable to send a special courier to 
Ten-ie-ya, the chief of the Yo 'Semites, bearing a kindl}^ yet 
decided, ultimatum. To this the old chief concluded it best to 
respond at once, and in person, on the following day. 


From Dr. Bunnell's graphic picture of the conference, as an 
eye-witness, the chief of the Y^o Semites had the courage to go 
alone, and to present himself in dignified silence to the guard, 
there to remain standing until motioned to enter Savage's tent. 
He was immediately recognized and respectfully greeted by 1 on- 
wat-chee as the chief of the Yo Semites. Both officers and men 
received him kindly, and most cordially tendered him the hospi- 
talities of their camp: — 

"After which, witli the aid of the Indians, the Major informed him 
of the Avishes of the Commissioneis. The old sachem was very suspicious 
of Savage, and feared he was taking this method of getting the Yo 
Semites into his power, for the purpose of revenging his personal wrongs. 
Savage told him that if he would go to the Commissioners and make a 
treaty of peace with them, as the other Indians were doing, there would 
be no more war. Ten-ie-ya cautiously inquired the object of taking all 
the Indians to the plains of the San Joaquin, and said: ' My people do 
not want anything from the Great Father you tell me about. The Great 
Spirit is our father, and he has always supplied us with all that we need. 
We do not want anything from white men. Our women are able to do 


our work. Go, then ; Jet lis remain in the mountains where we were born ; 
wliere the ashes of our fathers have been given to the winds. I have said 
enough ! ' 

"This was abruptly answered by Savage in Indian dialect and gest- 
ures. ' If you and your people have all you desire, why do you steal our 
horses and mules? Why do you rob the miners' camjis ? Why do you 
murder the white men, and plunder and burn their ' 

"Ten-ie-ya sat silent for some time; it was evident he understood 
what Savage had said, for he replied: 'My young men have sometimes 
taken horses and mules from the whites. It was wrong for them to do so. 
It is not wrong to take the property of enemies who have wronged my 
people. My young men believed the white gold-diggers were our enemies; 
Ave now know they are not, and we will be glad to live in peace with them. 
We will stay here and be friends. My people do not want to go to the 
plains. The tribes who go there are some of them very bad. They will 
make war upon my people. AVe cannot live on the plains with them. 
Here Ave can defend ourselves against them.' 

"In reply to this. Savage A'ery deliberately and firmly said: 'Your 
people must go to the Commissioners and make terms with them. If they 
do not, your young men Avill again steal our horses; your people will again 
kill and plunder the Avhites. It Avas your people Avho robbed my stores, 
burned my houses, and murdered my men. If they do not make a treaty, 
your Avhole tribe Avill be destroyed, not one of them Avill be left alive.' At 
this vigorous ending of the Major's speech, the old chief replied: 'It is 
useless to talk to you about who destroyed your property and killed your 
people. If the Chow-chillas do not boast of it, they are cowards, for they 
led us on. I am old, and you can kill me if you Avill, but what use to lie 
to you Avho knoAV more than all the Indians, and can beat them in their 
big hunts of deer and bear. Therefore I Avill not lie to you, but promise 
that if allowed to return to my people I Avill bring them in.' He Avas 
allowed to go. The next day he came back, and said his people Avould 
soon come to our camp; that Avhen he had told them they could come with 
safety, they Avere Avilling to go and make a treaty Avith the men sent by 
the Great Father who Avas so good and rich. Another day passed, 
but no Indians made their appearance from the 'deep valley,' spoken of 
so frequently by those at our camp. The old chief said the snow Avas so 
deep that they could not travel fast; that his A'illage was so far down 
(gesticulating, by way of illustration, Avith his hands) that Avhcn the snoAV 
w^as deep on the mountains they would be a long time climbing out of it. 
As Ave Avere at the time having another storm, Tcn-ie-ya's explanation 
was accepted, but he Avas closely Avatched." 


As each returning day brought with it no tangible evidence 
of the arrival of the Yo Semites, it was lusolved that they should 
be sought after in their boasted stronghold ; and, notwithstanding 
the discouraging pictures so graphically painted, in both language 
and gesture, by Ten-ie-ya, of the difficulties and dangers to be 
encountered on the way, coupled with assurances of the early 
arrival of his people, 


When volunteers were called for, according to the usual 
custom of the battalion, the entire command stepped to the front. 
Here a new dilemma became strikingly apparent. As the Indian 
captives, as well as baggage, had to be protected, a camp-guard 
was as essential as an advancing cohort. A call for this duty 
was then made, but as very few responded, the officers decided to 
provide for it by a good-natui-ed piece of strategy — a foot race — 
the fleetest to be the favored ones for the expedition, and tlie 
slowest to form the camp-guard. This novel method of selection 
was greeted with hilarious applause, as it made provisions for 
both emergencies, without hurtful discrimination. 

Amid many jocular allusions at the possible value of their 
fleet-footedness fon a retreat ?) when they met the enemy, the 
troops on the following nioi-ning made an early start, Avith ]\Iajor 
Savage in the advance, accompanied by Ten-ie-ya as guide. Deep 
snow, attended with the usual difficulties of making a trail 
through it, M^as soon encountered and overcome, by the rider in 
advance frequently falling out of line, and the' next taking his 
place. By this old-fashioned method a passably good horse-trail 
was made over it, especially considering the rough and rocky 
country being traveled over. 


About midway between camp and the valley seventy-two of 
the Yo Semites were met, forcing their way flounderingly through 
the snow, loaded down with children and wares, yet, on their route 
to the place of general rendezvous, at the south fork of the 


Merced. This was at least partial proof that Ten-ie-ya was act- 
ing in good faith, by carrying out his promises. But, as his band 
was estimated to number over two hundred, the question very 
naturally arose, where could be the remainder ? Ten-ie-ya, 
by way of apology for his limited following, contended that many 
of his people had intermarried with distant tiibes, and gone away ; 
that these were all that were willing to leave their mountain 
homes and move to the plains; that some few were sick and 
unable to come now, but would join them in the future, and 
other similar excuses. Such unsatisfactory statements, implying 
as they did at best, that only a portion of the Yo Semites was 
here represented, the troops determined upon advancing. As 
Ten-ie-ya was a rehictaiit, if not an unwilling guide, one of his 
young "braves" was selected in his place, and the old chief 
allowed to accompany his people to the camp. 


After separating from the Indians, and before advancing 
many miles, the great valley opened before them like a sublime 
revelation.* But here Dr. Bunnell, an eye-witness and partici- 
pant in the honoi', must be allowed to express his own sensations, 
and to paint the graphic picture. + 

It has been said that " it i.s not easy to describe in words the precise 
impressions which great objects make upon us." I cannot describe how 
completely I realized this truth. None but those who have visited this 
most wonderful valley, can even imagine the feelings with which I looked 
upon the view that was there presented. The grandeur of the scene was 
but softened by the haze that hung over the valley — light as gossamer — 
and by the clouds which partially dimmed the higher cliffs and mountains. 
This obscurity of vision but increased the awe with which I beheld it, and, 
as I looked, a peculiarly exalted sensation seemed to till my whole being, 
and 1 found my eyes in tears with emotion. 

To obtain a more distinct and quiet view, I had left the trail and 

*This was on May 5 or 6, 1851, although Dr. Bunnell incorrectl}' gives the 
latter part of March as the date. See dispatches of Maj. James D. Savage, in 
"Elliott's History of Fresno County,' pages 17i', ISO. 

+ " Discovery of the Yosemite," page 54. 


my horse, and wallowed through the snoAV alone to a projecting granite 
rock. So interested was I in the scene before me, that I did not observe 
that my comrades had all moved on, and that I would soon be left indeed 
alone. My situation attracted the attention of Major Savage — who was 
riding in the rear of the column — who hailed me from the trail below with, 
" You had better wake up from that dream up there, or you may lose your 
hair; I have no faith in Ten-ie-ya's statement that there are no Indians 
about here. We had better be moving; some of the murdering devils mav 
be lurking along this trail to pick up stragglers." I hurriedly joined the 
Major on the descent, and as other views presented themselves, I said 
with some enthusiasm; "If my hair is now required, I can depart in 
peace, for I have here seen the power and glory of a Supreme Being; the 
majesty of His handy-work is in that 'Testimony of the Eocks.'" 

To the Mariposa Battalion, then, commanded by Major Savage, 
is to be accorded the honor of first entering the Yo Semite Valley, 
May .5th or 6th, 1851. It is true the writer lias heard of various per- 
sons having visited it, when prospecting for gold, as early as 1849, 
but no responsible data to establish the fact has yet come to his 
knowledge. Still, if this were proven beyond peradventure, 
their neglect to publish s(j marvelous a discovery to the world, is 
presumable evidence of a lack of appreciation, or of an absorbed 
attention to other puisuits that utterly diverted it from this 
sublime theme. And while discussing this question I hope to be 
forgiven for expressing suiprise that so httle was said or written 
upon it by its discoverers at that time. Even Dr. L. H. Bunnell, 
to whom the public is so largely indebted for his interesting nar- 
rative, " The Discovery of the Yosemite," only published his 
description of it in 1880. Extenuating mention should, however, 
be made of the fact that, at that time, nearly every one's thoughts 
and energies were mainly centralized upon the acquisition of 
wealth, or in combatting the too frequent disappomtments that 
followed in its train, for a moment to permit such a divertisement 
as an intellectual banquet on scenery, or in the preparation and 
serving up of one for other.s. 



Oil the choice of friends 

Our good or evil name depends. 


I do beseech yon 
(Chiefly that 1 might set it in my prayers). 
What is your name '' 

— Shakkspear's Tempest, Act III. 

Time is lord of thee: 
Thy wealth, thy glor^', and thy name are his. 

— Thomas Love Peacock's Time. 

After the safe arrival of the command on the floor of the 
cliflf-eneompassed home of the " GrizzUes," as the Yo Semites were 
invariably termed by the troops, it would seem that although 
supposed to be surrounded by hostile Indians,' and that, too, in 
their much-vaunted stronghold, there evidently existed an utter 
absence of precaution, as of fear, inasmuch as all kinds of rollick- 
ing mirth and jollity held unchecked court in the lair o:' the 
enemy, and around a huge camp-fire, on the very evening of theii* 
arrival. It was here, and under these circumstances, and on this 
occasion, that the now famous valley received 


Its meaning is, according to the very best authorities, a large, 
or full-grown, grizzly hear; and is pronounced Yo Sem-i-tee. 
The old Indian name was Ah-wah-nee, and the tribe which inhab- 
ited it — the remote ancestors of Ten-ie-ya — were Ah-wah-nee- 
chees, the origin or signification of which is still veiled in mys- 
tery. All these considerations, and other proposed names merit- 
ing attention, were fully discussed at this opportune juncture; 


but " Yo Semite," the one suggested by Dr. L. H. Bunnell, was 
finally adopted by an almost unanimous vote. 

From an intelligent Indian, whose life the writer was once 
instrumental in saving, and from w^hom many interesting facts 
concerning his race have been obtained, and will be given in due 
season, he received the following 


A band of the Ah-wah-nee-cheeS; then a tribe numbering 
over one thousand, was encamped among the oaks near the foot 
of Indian Canon ; when, early one morning, an athletic chief deter- 
mined upon going to Mirror Lake (called by them " Ke-ko-too- 
yem," or Sleeping Water, and " Ah-wi-yah ") for the purpose of 
spearing a number of its delicious trout. On threading his way 
among the bowlders that strewed the ground, and when passing 
one of the largest, he was suddenly met by an enormous grizzly 
bear. The abruptness of this unexpected meeting must have 
been interpreted by the grizzly as an unjustifiable intrusion upon 
his ursine privileges and domain, as he immediately declared it a 
casus belli, by an instantaneous and ferocious attack upon the 
Indian. Unprepared as the young chief was for such an unequal 
encounter, he resolved upon standing his ground, and doing his 
best, as nobly as he could, so that the children of Ah-wah-nce 
might see that the valorous blood of their ancestors was still fiow- 
ing in the veins of their descendants. The dead limb of a tree, 
lying near, provided him with a weapon of defense, and with it 
he dealt out heavy and lusty blows upon the head of his antagonist ; 
and, although badly lacerated and torn by the teeth and claws of 
the infuriated brute, the Indian courageously held to the uneven 
contest, until the eyes of bruin began to glaze in the cold glare 
of death; and " victory had perched upon the banners" of the 
cliief. The astonished Indians, in admiring acknowledgment 
of the unexampled prowess of the dauntless Ah-wah-nee-chee, 
thenceforth called him " Yo Semite " in honor of his successful 
and great achievement. This well-won cognomen Avas eventually 

transmitted to his children; and, finally, to the whole tribe; so 


that the " Yo Semites" were known, and feared, by all the Indians 
around their wildly defensive habitation. 

It is apparent from Dr. Bunnell's statement* that the signif- 
ication of " Yo Semite" was not generally known to the battal- 
ion ; nor was there any uniformity in its general pronunciation, 
even among the Indians themselves, some calling it Oo-soom-i-tee, 
others Oo-hum-i-tee, Yo-hum-i-tee, Yo-hem-i-tee, and still others 
Yo-ham-i-tee, while Bullack, the oldest of the Yo Semites now 
living, calls it Ah Hum-a-tee — all, however, having the same 
meaning. Nor is this much to be wondered at, from a people 
entirely without a written language. Even in England — intelli- 
gent and progressive England — (as well as in some portions of the 
United States) there is an anomaly existing in pronunciation. In 
London, for instance, the word "corn" is enunciated caivn; in 
Hampshire, it is cam; while on the borders of Scotland it is coorn, 
and all intending to speak it corn. In Herefordshire, beef is 
spoken hif; and feet, Jit. Who, then, can wonder at the unlettered 
savage varying in his pronunciation. 

In the summer of 1855, Thomas Ayres, Alexander Stair, 
Walter Millard, and the writer, made the first tourist trip to Yo 
Semite ever attempted — about which something more will be pre- 
sented hereafter. We engaged two Yo Semite Indians as guides 
Towards night of the first day out, we inquired of the principal 
guide, Kossum, how far it might possibly be to Yo Semite — for 
tben we knew it by no other name. He looked at us earnestly, and 
replied: ''^oYq Semitee! Yo Ham'Uee; sahe, Yo-harro-i-tee." In 
this way we were corrected not less than thirty-tive or forty times. 
After returning to San Francisco, having arranged for the publi- 
cation of a large lithograph of the Yo Semite Falls, befoi-e attach- 
ing the name to it. I wrote to Mr John Hunt, who was keeping 
a store on the Fresno River, and from whom we had obtained 
our Indian guides, requesting him to go to the most intelligent 
among them, and ascertain the exact way of pronouncing the 
name given to the valley. His answer was, " The correct pro- 

* " Discovery of the Yo Semite," p.ige 62 


Quneiation is Yo-hciin-i-te or Yo-hem-i-te." This, then, was 
the name placed on the lithograph. 

After the first attempted jjortrayal of the valley in Hutch- 
ing's California Magazine, ^xAy, 1856, wherein Yo-ham-i-tee* 
was still used, there ensued a spirited though good-natured news- 
paper contest between Dr. Bunnell and the writer, upon its orthog- 
raphy; the former contending for Yo Semite, and the latter for 
Yo Hamitee, on account of the reasons above given. This discus- 
sion disclosed information, generally unknown before, of the nam- 
ing of the valley, as proposed by Dr. Bunnell, on the night of its 
first entrance by white people, May 5th or 6th, 1851, and naturally 
invited acquiescence in the privilege and right of its first visitors 
to give it a nomenclature most in accordance with their own 
expressed selection; hence, unquestioned concurrence in perpetu- 
ating the now well-established name, " Yo Semite." 

Before fully closing these inquiries, it may not be inappro- 
priate to consider why preference is given here to the construction 
of the word Yo Semite with a capital S on its second syllable. 
It is this: Dr. Bunnell, to whom the world is indebted for the 
choice and adoption of this euphonious name, .so gave it to the 
writer, some thirty years ago, and before the present slovenly way 
of spelling it came into practice. It is true. Dr. Bunnell, in his 
valuable work, "The Discovery of the Yosemite," has fallen into 
that habit; but, when asked his reason for making the change, 
replied, " I allowed the printer to follow his own way of spelling 
it. Yours, howevei'. is the correct one, and I must give you credit 
for keeping up its pure orthography, that being the construction 
given to it, and agreed upon, at our first camp-fire in Yo Semite 
in 1851." The Act of Congress making the donation of the valley 
to the State, so gives it. 

*Dr. Wozencraft, chairman ot the United States ludiau Commission, still 
gives this as the only name known in 1851, and the correct one. 



Not in the clamor of the crowded street, 
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng. 
But in ourselves, are triumph and defeat. 

— Longfellow's The Poets. 

The arms are fair 
When the intent for bearing them is just. 

— Shakespeae's Henry IV., Part I., Art V. 

How calm, how beautiful comes on 
The stilly hour, when storms are gone. 

— Moore's LalUi Poolh, The Fire Worshippers, Part III. 

On the early morning following the day of their arrival in 
the much- vaunted fastness of the " Grizzlies," when the order was 
given to "fall in," everv saddle was instantly occupied, and the 
a<;lvance commenced. The immense piles of talus lying beneath 
the granite walls of the Po-ho-no* Fall, intercepted their progress 
on the south side of the Merced, and compelled the fording of its 
ice-cold waters. The irregular depth of the river, with its 
obstructive bowlders, gave involuntary in Station to several for 
an unintentional bath; and which, but for the danger of being 
swept down by the current into the canon below, and to certain 
death, was only the signal for additional hilarity. 


Near El Capitan* unmistakably revealed the presence of Indians, 
and that they knew of the advent of the whites, and were evi- 
dently watching their movements. The near \'icinage of a large 
collection of Indian huts that had been but recently inhabited, 
and now gave evidence of hasty desertion, was proof positive that 

*A11 local objects of interest were without known names at this time. 


_ the game sought was near at hand, but had been driven away by 
lack of circumspection. A short distance from camp was an 
abundant supply of acorns, their staple article of bread-stuff. It 
would seem, however, by the tracks made, that their pretentious 
valor was, like their footsteps, rapidly taking departure. Far 
up the valley other manifest signs gave hopeful promise of near- 
ness to the foe; but again "delusive hope" was to experience 
another dash of disappointment, as nothing but evidences in 
abundance of hasty departure were discoverable — except a very 
old woman *' that could only be likened to 


And who, when questioned of the whereabouts of her companions, 
curtly replied (in Indian), " You can hunt for them, if you want 
to see them ! " Hunt they did for several days, but none were 
found, as the rocky talus over which the hostiies had made their 
escape, left no tracks of their course. 

On all hands, and at every deserted camp, were found large 
stores of Indian food, such as acorns, pine and chincapin nuts, 
grass seeds, wild oats scorched, dried caterpillars, roasted grass- 
hoppers, sun-dried larvae and pupae of flies, obtained mostly from 
Mono Lake; home-made baskets, of many sizes and patterns, 
and for different uses ; a few rabbit or squirrel-skin robes, for bed 
coverings,* obsidian (for arrow heads), pumice-stone, salt, relics of 
clothing and trinkets, the picked bones of horses and mules, and 
other property stolen from the whites., were found in liberal 
abundance — but not a single Indian was seen other than the 
old woman, and the "brave," brought with them as guide. 

Provisions becoming exhausted in the camp at Yo Semite, 
and the outlook for collecting the scattered Yo Semites very dis- 
couraging, without a prolonged search among the mountains 
around, after burning up the Indian food supplies, camp furniture, 
and huts, as the only available means now at command for com- 
pelling a surrender, this unsuccessful campaign was closed by a 
return of the battalion to camp at the South Fork. 

*For full description of all such articles, with the fabrics and methoda of 
manufacture, see Bunnell's " i^iscovery of the Yo Semite," pages 78-80. 



As the capture of any additional Indians, for the present at 
least, was strongly problematical, and supplies were running short, 
upon the arrival of the Yo Semite expedition, it was determined 
to break up camp, and convey such Indians as had been secured, 
to the reservation on the Fresno. On their way tliither the com- 
plement of " captives " was increased about one hundred by the 
voluntary surrender of that number to Captain Dill's command. 

An appetizing march of several days brought the entire 
cavalcade to within a few miles of their intended destination,- 
The general deportment of the Indians had been such as to suc- 
cessfully win the confidence of both officers and men, so that a 
strict guard over them was considered as altogether unnecessary. 
Under these conditions, permission was asked for a lai'ge portion 
of the command to accompany Major Savage to the reservation. 
"The Major finally assented to the proposition, sa^dng, 'I do not 
suppose the Indians can be driven off, or be induced to leave, until 
they have had the feast I have promised ; besides, they will want 
to see some of the commissioners' finery. I have been delighting 
their imaginations with descriptions of the presents in store for 
them. ' " Therefore Captain Boling. with nine men as camp guard, 
was the only force left. All apprehensions allayed, the kindly- 
hearted Captain told his men to take their sleep, and that he would 
watch, as he was not sleepy. " Towards morning I took another 
round," relates Captain Boling, "and finding the Indian camp 
wrapped in slumber, I concluded to take a little sleep myself, 
until daylight. This now seems unaccountable to me, for I am 
extremely cautious in my habits. I confess myself guilty of 
neglect of duty ; I should have taken nothing for granted. No 
one can imagine my surprise and mortification when I was 
told that 

And that none were to be seen except the one asleep b}' our camp- 
fire. Consternation was in every face, as not one of the three 
hundred and fifty captives, seen in such apparently peaceful 


slumber that night, was now left to explain the cause of their 
hasty departure. Etlbrt in pursuit only disclosed their successful 
exodus, and the utter hopelessness of one officer and nine men 
attempting to recapture them. No choice was left, therefore, other 
than for these to report themselves at head-quarters, and tell their 
own sad story.- The long-delayed arrival of the expected caravan 
at the reservation, gave some cause for uneasiness there ; but not 
one was prepared to realize the full force of such an appalUng 
disclosure, as, that every one of the Indians, whom they had been 
months in collecting, were, in a single night, and when within a 
few miles of the anticipated goal, all scattered abroad. Still, 
however reluctant the admission, the startling fact stood boldly 
out, that 

" 'Tis revelation satisfies all doubts." 

With this came also the dawning consciousness of some unex- 
plainable cause for their sudden departure. As Kee-chee had 
invariably proven himself to be unswervingly loyal to the 
interests of peace, he was immediately summoned, for both con- 
ference and service, and dispatched among the atirighted fugitives. 
Thf-n developed the certainty that on the preceding eventful 
night several Chow-cliilla runners had visited the camp, and 
cajoled the unsuspecting captives into the belie" that they were 
being decoyed into a trap, and would all be murdered. The}' 
also assured them that Dr. Wozencraf t, one of the Commissioners, 
had already killed Kee-chee, the principal chief of their united 
tribes, and that there was a plot on foot to slaughter every one, the 
moment they had them in their power. These grossly infamous 
representations, then, very naturally caused the totality of the 
stampede. Kee-chee's appearance among them, alive, was not 
only conclusive proof of his safety, but of the fraudulently decep- 
tive stories of the Chow-chillas. His personal explanations and 
assurances soon restored their confidence, and the major poi-tion 
cheerfully consented to seek the comforts and protection of the 
reservation, where they expressed sincere regret for allowing 
themselves to be so readily imposed upon. One desire now was 


manifestly uppermost, the speedy punishment of the Chow-ehillas, 
for being- the cause of all their trouble. 

As the Yo Semites liad again returned to the valley, and 
with the Chow-chillas had refused to respond to the messages 


Accordingly about one hundred men, led by Captains Boling and 
Dill, and under the command of Major Savage (who was shortly 
afterwards summoned to return), commenced scouring the country 
in all directions for Indians — all now found being considered 
"hostiles." A large band of Chow-chillas, having a war- dance, 
was discovered upon the south bank of the main San Joaquin 
River, ari'anged to give battle; but, after crossing the stream, in 
full expectation of meeting them, the enemy had fled. Examina- 
tion of a smouldering fire gave evidence that the body of Jose Rev, 
with his articles of value, had just been consumed. 

All the lodges and stores wore destroyed, and the trail of the 
retreating Indians taken ; but after exploring this entire section, 
crossing and recrossing the swollen streams, and enduring many 
hardships, not a single Indian was either killed or captured. 
The destruction of supplies, and starving them out, was now con- 
sidered about the only way of reaching and successfully conquer- 
ing them, and the troops marched back to the Fresno. This view 
was proven to be correct, for not many days had elapsed after 
their return, when Tom -kit and Frederico, successors to Jose" Rey, 
as chief of the Chow-chillas, with much bombastic gasconading, 
finally made a treaty, and accepted terms. This ended the war 
with this defiant and once powerful tribe, leaving only the 
" Grizzlies " to grapple with. 


Suitable preparations completed, the advance was commenced 
under Captain Boling — "the services of Major Savage being 
indispensable to the Commissioners " — -the main column follow- 
ing under Lieutenant Chandler. In the hope of surprising the 


Indians, if possible, or "cut oti" the escape of the women and 
children, and thus bring the warriors to terms," a rapid and 
stealthy mar -h was made, and the valley quietly entered, but no 
Indians were discovered. A few newly built but now deserted 
huts, with heaps of hulled acorns, some of which had been set on 
fire, and were still burning, that had evidently been prepared for 
human transportation across the Sierras, were the only visible 
signs of Indian life. The entrance of the pursuers to the valley 
had evidently been anticipated and closely watched. 


Their advance, however, was soon to be rewarded by the sight of 
living forms flitting from tree to tree, and from rock to rock ; these 
proving to be a portion of the enemy of which they were in search, 
a lively chase commenced that resulted in the capture of five 
Indians, probably scouts, three of whom were sons of Ten-ie-ya, 
and as they had been caught near three singularly uniform 
mountain peaks, these peaks were called, and are still known, as 
" The Three Brothers." Hence the derivation of that appellation. 
An excited search in different dii-ections speedily disclosed 
unmistakable indications of the near proximity of Indians, in con- 
siderable numbers, and who were manifestly secreting themselves 
among the rocky talus bordering the open meadows, or on the 
adjacent cliffs, and were then probably espying all their move- 
ments. Countless tracks, baskets, scattered acorns, and other 
" signs," apparently indicated the way to their hiding-place, or 
trail of exit. These were at first eagerly followed, but gradually 
the conviction forced itself upon some that they had been inten- 
tionally placed there by the Indians to 


"While others, more valorous than prudent, hurried for the foe, to 
" beard the lion in his den." This incautious temerity was at the of their lives, for huge masses of rock came thundering down ; 
fortunately, however, some projecting cliffs, under which they 
were enabled to speedily find shelter, saved them from extermina- 


tion. One man, named Spencer, was struck by a fragmedt and 
hurled over tit" ty feet ; yet he, although badly cut and bruised, 
eventually recovered. This was carrying out the threatened 
method of warfare indicated by Kee-chee. 

Ten-ie-ya's sons made no secret of the certainty that the old 
chief was near, and intimated that he would in nowise be averse 
to coming in, if sent for, to "have a talk with the white chief." 
One son, and the son-in-law of Ten-ie-ya, were accordingly dis- 
patched for him, in charge of Dr. Bunnell, the other prisoners 
being kept as hostages. Meeting the sorrowful and angry cav- 
alcade with the wounded man, upon the way, it required all the 
doctor's firmness to prevent their shooting the messenger pris- 
oners under his charge upon the spot.* After safely escorting 
them to the foot of the mountain, where the trail leaves the canon, -|- 
he allowed the Indians to proceed upon their mission, and 
returned to camp; calling, however, on the way to dress the 
wounds of the sufiering soldier. 


While awaiting the arrival of tidings of, or from, Ten-ie-ya, 
and indulging in the restful recreation of witnessing the expert 
use of the bow and arrow by the Indians, the target having been set 
at long range; while pretending to examine the closeness of the 
shots, one of the hostages made his successful escape up the North 
Canon — naturally to the indescribable mortification of those 
ostensibly in charge. To avoid a repetition of so undesirable a 
circumstance, the remaining two were tied together, and, for still 
greater security, had been fastened to a tree; but later, when sup- 
posing that their movements had been unnoticed, they succeeded 
in releasing themselves, and immediately started upon the run 
for the same canon that had afibrded escape for their companion. 
It is more than presumaV)k' that these proceedings had been 

*For full and graphic recitaLs of these adventures, read " Discovery of the 
Yosemite. " 

fTliis is the old ami long-used Intlian trail by Mt. Watkins to Lake Teu-ie-ya 
and Mono. 


approvingly watched by the guard, who, it is supposed, was 
longingly anxious for an excusable opportunity for killing them 
and efFectually ridding both the camp and the country of their 
presence, although contrary to the orders and policy of those in 
command. Be that as it may, 


When scarcely twenty yards from the tree to which he had been 
bound ; the other would hav^e shared the same fate but for " a 
bullet-pouch that had been hung upon the muzzle of one of the 
guard's rifles;" owing to this circumstance he escaped unharmed. 
This act was unirorinly deplored and condemned by nearly the 
whole command, and its perpetrators deservedly shunned and 
despised by all, from that time thenceforward. 


The morning passed* and the hour of ten arrived, without Ten-ie-ya. 
Captain Boling then sent out Sandino and the scouts to hunt for him, and, 
if found, to notify him tliat he was expected. Sandino soon came back, 
and reported that lie had seen Ten-ie-ya and talked with him; but that 
he was unable to reach him from below, on account of the steepness of 
the ledge. Sandino reported that Ten-ie-ya Avas unwilling to come in; 
that he expressed a determination not to go to the Fresno. He would 
make peace with the white chief, if he would be allowed to remain in his 
own territory. Neither he nor his people would go to the valley while the 
white men were there. They would stay upon the mountains, or go to the 


This positive, though somewhat unexpected answer from the 
old chief, could not well be misunderstood, and Captain Boling 
promptly resolved upon the execution of such measures as would 
compel acquiescence in his wishes. Having ascertained from 
Sandino the probable locality occupied by Ten-ie-ya upon the 
cliff, he dispatched Lieutenant Chandler and a necessary force, 
accompanied by a few Noot-chil and Po-ho-no-chee scouts, for the 
purpose of surrounding and bringing him into camp, according 

* "Discovery of the Yosemite. ' 


to orders, alive if "possible. He was found near the expected 
place, eagerly scanning every movement passing below, and, 
to appearance, utterly unconscious of the approach of the platoon. 

The unwelcome discovery made, and seeing that his retreat above 
had been cut olf, Ten-ie-ya at first ran along westerly, on the slope of the 
mountain towards Indian Canon;* but finding that he was cut off in that 
direction also, by the Noot-chti and Po-ho-no-chee scouts, he turned and 
came down a trail, through an oak tree top to the valley, which Sandino 
had by this time reached, and where he had been attracted by the noise 
made in jiursuit. Lieutenant Chandler had not climbed up the trail, and 
hearing Sandino's cry for help, and the noise above him, he was able ta 
reach the place when Ten-ie-ya descended, in time to secure him. Ten- 
ie-ya said the men above him were rolling down stones, and he did not 
like to go up, as they broke and flew everywhere; for that reason he came 
down. Ten-ie-ya accompanied his captors without making any resistance, 
although he strongly censured the Indians for being instrumental in his 
capture .t 

With the proud bearing of a chief who represented a long 

line of ancestors, and a tribe that commanded the respectful fear 

of surrounding bands, although a prisoner, he walked almost 

defiantly erect into camp. The first object that met his gaze 

upon arrival was the dead body of his favorite son. Here let us 

silently drop the mantle of sympathetic sorrow over the feelings 

of a bereaved father, while we make sad confession that 

' ' When all is past, it is humbling to tread 
O'er the weltering field of the tombless dead." 

The most benignant condolence, followed by tlie fullest regretful 
explanations, could not restore his latest-born son. Not a word 
escaped his quivering lips for many days. The most persistent 
of questionings elicited no articulate response. 

As Ten-ie-ya would give no clew to the whereabouts of his 
people, even if he knew (and which was very doubtful) a well- 
organized and scrutinizing search Avas instituted in many direc- 
tions, and mostly on foot. While these were being systematically 

*This was the name given to the " North .Canon" after the escape of the 
Indian fugitives up it; and by which t has ever since been known. 

tBunnell's "Discovery of the Yosemite." 


conducted among the mountainous surroundings of the valley, 
there arose considerable excitement within it, from 


But "as he rushed from his keeper, Cameron dashed after and 
caught him before he was able to plunge into and swim the river." 
Supposing that he was to be condemned and shot for this, when led 
to Captain Boling, whom he considered responsible for the loss of 
his son, his feelings at last found utterance in the following char- 
acteristic speech, as presented by Dr. Bunnell: — 

ICill me, sir. Captain! Yes, kill me. as you killed my son; as you 
would kill my people if they were to come to you! You would kill all 
my race if you had the power. Yes, sir, American, you can now tell your 
warriors to kill the old chief; you have made me sorrowful, my life dark; 
you killed the child of my lieart, why not kill the father? But wait a 
little; when I am dead, I will call to my jjeople to come to you; I will call 
louder than you have had me call [referring to the expressed wishes of the 
oflBcers that he should call in his people]; that they shall hear me in their 
sleep, and come to avenge the death of their chief and his son. Yes, sir, 
American, my spirit will make trouble for you and your people, as j'ou 
have caused trouble to me and my people. With the wizards I will follow 
the white men and make them fear me. You may kill me, sir. Captain, 
but you shall not live in peace. I will follow in your footstejis, I will not 
leave my home, but be with the spirits among the rocks, the water-falls, 
in the rivers and the winds; wheresoever you go, 1 will be with you. You 
will not see me, but you will fear the spirit of the old chief, and grow 
cold.* The great spirits have spoken! I have done. 

Instead of killing him, however, they regaled him with a 
good supper, their sorrow changing into admiring veneration for 
his fearless bravery. 

As sundry explorations in the immediate vicinity of the 
valley had brought no hoped-for results, an expedition was 
resolved upon to the High Sierra, and, if necessary, across them. 
Ten-ie-ya was taken with them. 

*It is claimed by all Indian " Medicine Men " that the presence of a spirit is 
announced by a cool breeze, and tliat sometimes they turn cold and shake as witli 
an ague. — Dr. Bunnell. 



Before advancing over twenty miles above the valley, the blue 
ascending smoke of some camp fires indicated the near vicinity of 
an Indian village. Cautiously approaching it, and after captur- 
ing their outlying pickets, they found the Yo Semites in force by 
a beautiful lake. Judiciously moving upon it, before they were 
discovered they succeeded in surrounding and surprising the 
whole, so that not one of them had time or opportunity for escap- 
ing. This was a master-stroke of good fortune. Finding them- 
selves utterly powerless, they piteously cried out for peace. There 
was not even the semblance of resistance or of apparent objection. 
Here Ten-ie-ya rejoined his four squaws, and their re-union once 
more was a joy-giving event. As all seemed worn out with 
watching, and were in a starving condition, they gave abundant 
proof of abject willingness to accept almost any terms. 


" Looking back to the lovely little lake," writes Dr. Bunnell, 
where we had been encamped during the night, and watching 
Ten-ie-ya as he ascended to our group, I suggested to Captain 
Boling that we name the lake after the old chief, and call it 
"Lake Ten-ie-ya.' " In concurrent response to this, the Captain, 
addressing those assembled, replied: "Gentlemen, I think the 
name an appropriate one, and shall use it in my report of the 
expedition. Beside this, it is rendering a kind of justice to per- 
petuate the name of the old chief." This, therefore, was the 
origin and time of naming one of the most charmingly pictur- 
esque lakes of any country, concerning which more will be said 
in a future chapter. 


The total number of Indians found here was thirty-five, 
"nearly all of whom were in some way a part of the family of 
the old patriarch, Ten-ie-ya." All of the remainder of those that 
had escaped were supposed to have joined the Tuolumne and 
Mono Indians, among whom they had intermarried. Deeming it 



better to proceed with, and care for, those ah'eady in safe-keeping, 
than to pui'sue others at the neglect of these, and against orders, 
the men were placed under guard, and the women and children 
allowed to go free, and in this manner the motley cavalcade took 
up its line of march. 

According to Indian custom, 
the women performed all the 
manual labor, including the 
carrying of all their heavy 
packs; and the men the eat- 
ing, the grumbling, and the 
sleeping. This arrangement, 
to the officers in charge, was 
demurred to as an unequal 
division, and in the hope of ad- 
justing it, and facilitating a 
more rapid advance of the 
entire party, the men were 
ordered to bi^ar a fair share of 
the burdens. Against this, 
howevei', to the anmsing sur- 
prise of all, the squaws them- 
selves were the most violently 
opposed. Ten-ie-ya, it is said, waxed eloquent against such an 
unheard-of innovation of their customs. As all parties in interest 
were averse to any such change, it was accordingly abandoned. 


Diversified by numerous scenes and experiences by the way, 
every captive with which they had started was eventually deliv- 
ered safely over to the Indian Commissioners at the Fresno, and 
the expedition formall}' counuended for its success. This virtu- 
ally terminated the Mariposa Indian War. That accomplished, 
the Mariposa Battalion was mustered out of service, July I, 


*See Elliott's " History of Fresno County," page ISl. 



Ill habits gather by unseen degrees. 

As brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas. 

— Dryden's Ovid, Metamorphoses, Blc. X V. 

Guilt's a terrible thing. 

— Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair. 

Angels for the good man's sin 

Weep to record, and blush to give it in. 

— Campbell's Pleasures of Hope. 

Chafing under the restraint attending his residence at the 
reservation, in addition to many tribal squabbles, and the 
ostensible lack of dignity showed him by his fellow-captives, 
Ten-ie-ya implored permission to return to his old home in the 
mountains, promising faithfully to conform to every requirement 
asked of him by the Commissioners. This permission was event- 
ually conceded, under certain conditions, and the old chief, with 
his family, was once more allowed to return to the Yo Semite. 
Other members of his tribe, shortly after Ten-ie-ya's departure, 
silently stole away from the reservation and joined him; " but as 
no complaints were made by their chiefs, it was understood that 
they were glad to get rid of them ; therefore no effort was made 
to bring them back." 

After the severe lessons already taught these renegades, it 
was reasonable to suppose that they Avould have accepted the 
situation, and kept upon their best behavior, but with the return 
of winter came also the Indians, and with them their old bad 
habits. Numerous animals being missed from their pasture- 
grounds, it was presumed that the Yo Semites had stolen them ; 
"but as some of them were found in the possession of Mexicans, 
who were promptly executed for the theft, no charge was pre- 
ferred against the Yo Semites." 



N or about May 28th, 1852,* a 
pai'ty of Hve prospectors for 
gold, consisting of Messrs. Tu- 
dor, Grover, Sherman — or Sher- 
Ijon — Babcock, and Rose, left 
Coarse Gold Gulch, Fresno 
County (now used as one of the 
stage routes between Madera 
iiml Wawona), for the Yo Semite 
Valley. They had scarcely 
entered it before they were 
attacked by Indians, that lay 
in ambush among the rocks, at 
the foot of th'e old Indian trail. 
Eose and Sherman — or Sherbon, as Dr. Bunnell gives it — were 
instantly killed. Tudor was seriously wounded; but he and the 
others seci-eted themselves among the rocks, and fought the 
Indians, until darkness enabled them to make good their escape. 


*Klliott's " History of Fresno County." 


Thj arrival of the survivors in Mariposa with the exciting 
news of these murders, and the renewal of Indian hostilities, very stin-ed up the old defiant hate, and Ihe Indian Commis- 
sioners were blamed for permitting Ten-ie-ya's return. It was, 
moreover, feared that this would be a signal for the wholesale 
desertion of Indians from the reservation. Instead of this, 
however, those living on the outside fled within for protection, 
fearing that the guilt of others would be visited upon their 
own heads. 


The officer in command at Fort Miller, on the San Joaquin 
River, was informed, by special courier, of these murders; when 
a detachment of regular soldiers, under Lieutenant Moore, U. S. 
A., was innnediately sent out against the enemy, accompanied by 
scouts and guides that had formed portions of the first and second 
expeditions, and a few friends of the murdered men. They sur- 
prised and captured five of the Indians; the others, led by Ten- 
ie-ya, fled and escaped. The naked bodies of the murdered men 
Avere found, and buried, near the Pohono, or Bridal Veil Fall. 
Satisfied of the proof being conclusive that the Indians caught 
were the blood-stain e<l nun-derers of the whites, the clothing of the 
murdered men being foun<l upon their persons. Lieutenant Moore 
ordered them to be shot upon the spot. 

These efieetually disposed of, Moore and his forces, after 
searching for the remaining Yo Semites in their hiding-places 
about the valley, pursued them into, and even across the n.oun- 
tains to, the Mono country ; but as the Indians had every advan- 
tage, both in the start, and in their knowledge of the ways and 
by-ways of escape, they were never overtaken, and the command 
reluctantly returned to Fort Miller, without a single prisoner 
as a trophy. 


Nothing more was heard of the Yo Semites, afttn* their suc- 
cessful fiight to, and hiding among, the Monos, with wlioni they 


found shelter and protection, until the early summer of 1853, 
when, being dissatisfied with their dependent position, and more 
so with the locality assigned them, they returned once more to 
the Yo Semite Valley. Fearing the just retaliation of the whites, 
however, they made their abiding places among the talus,' 
whence they could notice every movement of the enemy, without 
themselves being seen. There are several of these places of shelter 
still to be found among the rocks near Indian Canon, and elsewhere. 
Life, in their old home, unspiced wdtli mischief, became 
unbearably monotonous to them after the habit had been acquired, 
and learning through their runners that the Monos had stolen a 
large band of fine horses from the vicinity of Los Angeles, the 
Yo Semites became jealously uneasy, and planned a foraging 
excursion, to obtain some of this living plunder for their own use ; 
indulging the impression that it would be safer, under present 
circumstances, to steal from the Monos than from the whites. The 
raid was accordingly executed with masterly cunning, and their 
arrival with the stolen horses successfully accomplished. By this 
time they had mustered sufficient courage to form an encamp- 
ment down in the valley, near the mouth of Indian Canon, 
where, according to Dr. Bunnell, who is probably the best informed 
of any man living, on such topics: — 

After a few days' delay, and thinking themselves secure, they killed 
one or more of the horses, and were in the enjoyment of a grand feast in 
honor of their return, when the Monos pounced down upon them. 
Their gluttony seemed to have rendered them oblivious to all danger to 
themselves, and of the ingratitude by which the feast had bfeen supplied. 
Like sloths, they appear to have been asleep after having surfeited their 
appetites. They were surprised in their wigwams by the wronged and 
vengeful Monos, and before they could rally for the fight, the treacherous 
old chief was struck down by the hand of a powerful young Mono chief. 


Ten-ie-ya had been the principal object of attack at the commence- 
ment of the assault, but he had held the others at bay until discovered 
by the young chief, who, having exhausted his supply of arrows, seized a 
fragment of rock and hurled it with such force as to crush the skull of " the 
old Grizzly." As Ten-ie-ya fell, other stones were cast upon him by the 


attackingparty, after Pai-ute custom, until he was literally stoned to death. 
All but eight of Ten-ie-ya's young braves were killed; these escaped down 
the valley, and through the canon below. The old men and women who 
survived the first assault were permitted to escape from the valley. 
The young women and children were made captives, and taken across the 
mountains to be held as slaves or drudges to their captors. 

Thus substantially ended the once famous tribe of the Yo 
Semites. The few that escaped eventually found their way to 
" Hunt's Store" on the Fresno. It was from these that we 
obtained our Indian guides in 1855, as related in the ensuing 


Before closing this recital, it may not be deemed irrelevant to 
state that Major Savage, the chosen officer of command for the 
Mariposa Battalion, fearing that the best interests of the Indians 
were being jeoparded by the course of speculative and unscrupu- 
lous men, denounced some of the leaders in unmeasured terms. 
This brought on a personal altercation, and re-encounter, between 
lavage and a man named Harvey, which ended in the death of 
Savage, August, 1852. 

,^ The Indian tribes represented in the Peace Treaty were as 
follows: The Howechais, Chookchancies, Chowchillas, Pohono- 
ches, Nootchoos, Pitcaches, Capoos, Toomanehs, Tallinchees, 
Poskesas, Wachahets, Itaches, Choenemnes, Chokimenas, Notoho- 
tos, and Narmelches — 16.* 

As Dr. Bunnell most graphically states: "It was a weU- 
known fact that these people [the Indians] preferred horse-flesh 
and their acorn jelly to the rations of beef that were supposed to 
have been issued by the Government;" and, moreover, as an ulti- 
mate sequence, the reservation on the Fresno gradually became 
unpopular on this account, but mainly, from bad management; 
was afterwards abolished by the Government; and, finally, its 
lands and buildings were gobbled up by sharp-sighted, if not 
unprincipled men who, like many others of that class, became 
rich out of the acquisition. 

* Elliott's History of Fresno County." 



God is the author, men are only the players. 

— Balzac. 

There are two worlds; the world th t we can measure with line and rule, and 
the world that we feel with our hearts and imaginations. 

— Leigh Hunt's Men, Women, and Books. 
And this our life, exempt from public haunt, 
Finds tongues in trees, books in tiie running brooks. 
Sermons in stones and good in everything. 

— Shakespeark's As You Like It. 

Upon the return of the Mariposa Battalion to the settlements 
— the exploits of which are briefly outlined in chapters two and 
three — and when, like 

" The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay. 
Sat by his fire, and talked the night away," 

They recounted their 

"Moving accidents by flood and field," 

But little seems to have been said, and that little very casually, 
about the marvelous grandeur of the Yo Semite, at least but 
little found its way, impressibly, to the public through the press 
of that day. It is therefore only a historical verity to confess 
that, but for the contemplated publication of an illustrated Cal- 
ifornia monthly — afterwards issued for a number of years in San 
Francisco — its merely fortuitous mention would probably have 
escaped the attention of the writer altogether as it seemed to have 
done that of the public. As the account given, however, men- 
tioned the existence of " a water-fall nearly a thousand feet high," 
it was sufficient to suggest a series of ruminating queries. A 
water-fall a thousand feet in height, and that is in California ? A 
thousand feet ? Why, Niagara is only one hundred and sixty- 



four feet high! A thousand feet!! The scrap containing this 
startling and valuable statement, meager though it was, was 
carefully treasured. 


About the twentieth of June, 1855 — some four years after 
Yo Semite had been first seen by white men, and when entirely 
unaware of the sublime mountain scenery afterwards found there — ■ 
the " water-fall a thousand feet hioh " induced the writer to form 
a party to visit it. That party — whose names are also given in a 
previous chapter — consisted of the then well-known artist, Thomas 
Ayres (who had been specially engaged by the writer to portray 
the majesty and beauty of the lofty water-fall expected to be 
found there), Walter Millard, and J. M. Hatchings. Mr. Alexan- 
der Stair afterwards joined us at Mariposa. 

Upon our arrival at Mariposa, whence the principal mem- 
bers of the battalion had started out against the Indians, in 
1851. to our surprise, the very existence of such a place as the 
Yo Semite Valley, was almost unknown to a very large propor- 
tion of its residents. Numerous and persistent inquiries, however, 
eventually revealed the fact that a man named — say — Carter, "VN^as 
one of those who had gone out against the Indians, in 1851. 
Accordingly, Mr. Carter's residence was anxiously inquired for, 
and finally found about two miles below town. Mr. Carter was 
at home. 

"Is this Mr Carter ? " 

"Yes, sir; it is." 

" You were a member of Company B, Captain Boling's, I 
believe, during the Indian campaign of 1851 ? " 

"Yes, sir; I was." 

" Did you go to the Yo Semite Valley with that company ? " 

"1 did, sir." 

" Then you are the very man that we wanted to find. We 
have just arrived here from San Francisco, and want to learn 
our way to that valley. Will you, therefore, please to give us 


such plain directions, that we cannot possibly misunderstand 
them, so that we can get there ? " He looked at us in bewildered 
and nervous astonishment, and replied: — 

" Me, sir ? I couldn't do it. I am not worth a worn-out 
old pick at that business. Why, bless your life, I only live about 
two miles from town, and if I don't notice particularly what I 
am about, I am sure to take the wrong trail, and get lost. The 
fact is, sir, I am about the poorest man you could have come to, 
on that business. Kow if yon had only gone to John Fowler's, 
John could have told you all about it. John Fowler is the man 
that you want." 

" Where does he live ? " 

" Only about a mile and a quarter from here. You couldn't 
very well miss the trail, if you were to turn to the left at the 
bottom of this ravine; about two hundred yards from there, by 
bearing a little to the right, you will cross Blanket Ridge into 
Shay's Gulch ; well, j^ou follow that down nearly to the mouth, 
where you go over a rocky point into Slum-gullion Creek ; here, 
let me caution you to keep a sharp lookout for miner's prospect- 
ing holes, that are full of soft mud, although apparently dry and 
hard on the top ; for, if you ever walk into one of those, the chances 
are against your ever getting out, to say nothing about the bright 
red color you would be painted, if you should come out at all. 
Well, John Fowler's cabin is on the west side of Slum-gullion 
Creek, about three-quarters of a mile above where you first strike 
it. If John hasn't gone to town — and I don't think this is his 
day for going — he can give you all the directions." 

So we thanked Mr. Carter for his information, wished him 
good-day, and set out in search of "John Fowler's." Many were 


That we witnessed by the way, and which, of themselves, would 
have been sufficient, under ordinary circumstances, to fully compen- 
sate us for our jaunt, and even now they beguiled and rewarded 
our every footstep. Perseverance is generally crowned with sue- 



cess, and although the day was sultry, and the trail sometimes 
doubtful as well as rough, we finally found ourselves at the door 
of Mr. Fowler's cabin. According to the almost invariable custom 
amoncf crold miners, no matter how rough their exteriors, we 
were most courteously re- 
ceived. His answers to our 
questions soon disclosed the 
fact that although a mem- 
ber of the expedition of 
1851, and had entered the 
valley with the others, hav- 
ing stood guard a good deal 
at night, he generally felt 
too sleepy in the day-time 
to take particular notice 
of tlie country over which 
they were traveling. He 
could probably give us some 
general directions, yet they 
would not be sufficiently 
consecutive to enable us 
to follow them. But there 
was a member of Company see! i've struck it. 

C, named Lovejoy, who could accommodate us with the very 
knowledge we were seeking. 

Accordingly, Mr. Lovejoy was sought after, and found. 
From him wo ascertained, not the route to the Yo Semite Valley, 
but that he had been the undisputed owner of a bad sick-head- 
ache, which he had kept in uuquestiouL'd possession for several 
successive days, when on the march ; and that, as a consequence, 
he had noticed nothing outside, or j;,part from that. He could 
not tell us anything. Finally, a number of regretful shadows 
began to file into the furrows of his sun-burned face, and to 
gather among the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, possibly at 
the thought of the distance we had journeyed to find him, and 



the little satisfaction he had 
given to pay us for our time 
and trouble;. Looking stead- 
fastly and musingly into our 
faces, the shadows began to 
lift, and the wrinkles to 
smooth away, as though a 
dawning intelligence was 
breaking slowly through him 
to our relie.'^, as he exclaimed: 
"Gentlemen! I have it at last! 
There is Thomas Osborne, 
who lives down at Bogus 
Thunder Bar, not over a mile 
from here, who can," etc. etc. 
So we called on Mr. Osborne, 
and Mr. Osborne sent us to 
Mr Giles, and Mr. Giles re- 
ferred us to Mr. Harris, and 
Mr. Harris directed us to some 
one else, and thus we contin- 
ued until, at last, night over- 
took us when questioning the eleventh fraction of the two hundred 
and four, forming the Mariposa Battalion. The outlook for the 
information needed was not the most inspiriting. 

In this dilemma we met Captain Boling, the gentleman in 
charge of Company B, of the Mariposa volunteers, and who, 
being really very desirous of assisting us in every possible manner, 
confessed that although he considered himself about as good as an 
expert in wood-craft, could not now find the way to Yo Semite; 
as the trails were all overgrown with grass and weeds; and, as a 
matter of course, if he could not find the way there himself, it 
would be simply impossible for him to describe it so that we could 
find it. "No," said he, "if I were in your place, gentlemen, and 
wanted to go to the Yo Semite, I should first make a trip to John 




Hunt's store on the Fresno — it is thirty miles directly out of your 
way — but there you will find the few Yo Semite Indians living of 
the entire tribe ; tell Mr. Hunt your -wants and wishes, also say 
to him that I sent you, and I am satisfied that he will provide 
you Avith a couple of good Indian guides who can take you 
straight to the spot." We considered this most excellent advice, 
and, so expressing it, carried out his recommendations. 


Mr. Hunt received us very kindly, and, acceding to our 
request, procured us two of the most intelligent and trustworthy 
Indians that he had, whose names were Kos-sura and So-pin; 
and on the following day we set out upon our enigmatical course 
for the valley. 

ho! for the MOrXTAIXS. 

Believe me there is an indescribable charm steals over the 
heart when wandering among the untrodden fastnesses of the 
mountains for the fii'st time, especially under circumstances similar 
to ours. We were entering a mysterious country — to us unknown. 
The journey before us was full of uncertain lights and shadows 
— so might its ending possibly bs. Our guides were Indians, and 
from a tribe that bore no enviable reputation ; and were, more- 



over, strangers to us. They were conducting us among the 
unbroken solitudes of the forest, and away from civilization. 

The roads near the settlements left behind, there way scarcely 
the outline of an Indian trail visible ; unused as they had been, all 
were now overgrown, or covered up with leaves, as dead as the 
hopes of the Indians that once trod them. The boughs of seem- 
ingly impenetrable thickets were parted asunder, and our way 
forced through them in silence. Not a sound relieved the 
unbroken stillness ol our discursive progress. Even the woods 
were voiceless with the songs of birds. A band of deer might 
occasionally shoot across an opening, or a covey of grouse beat 
the air heavily with their wings in clumsy flight ; but these were 
all that could be seen or heard of life, except our own desultory 
or nonsensical converse. 

Stolidly our Indian guides advanced; unquestioningly we 
followed. Not a thought of inquietude, or of distrust, or of mis- 

WE TAKE A •' CaX-OiF. 



giving intruded itself. As a natural sequence to a mountain 
jaunt like ours, and over a supposed Indian ti-ail — when there 
was one, the best of which was never one of the smoothest — our 
experiences were not only diversified but numerous. Now the 
ridge up which we were ascending was at an angle so steep that, 
when on foot, the tails of our horses would be used as hands to 
assist" us in climbing it. At times there was a fear lest our 
animals should fall over backwards, or break their limbs between 
bowlders. Then the descent would become so rapid, and the pine- 
needles so slippery, that riding was impossible, and pedestrianism 
brought us into all sorts of (un) artistic positions. (See illustra- 
tion on preceding page as well as on this). Sometimes the Indians 
would cross a ravine in one place and ourselves in another. 



Of course we knew more about the way to g'o than they did 
— and proved it! There was one comforting solace to all our mis- 
haps — they brought an enjoyable laugh to the Indian guides. 
These, and their meals, were always in order, and ever pleasantly 
taken. Successively and successfully, we passed through dark 
and apparently interminable forests, penetrated brushy thickets, 
ascended rocky ridges, and descended talus-covered slopes, until, 
on the afternoon of the third day of our deeply interesting expedi- 
tion, we suddenly came in full view of 


The inapprehensible, the uninterpretable profound, was at 
last opened up before us. That first vision into its wonderful 
depths was to me the birth of an indescribable "first love" for 
scenic grandeur that has continued, unchangeably, to this hour, 
and I gratefully treasure the priceless gift. I trust, moreover, 
to be forgiven for now expressing the hope that my long after- 
life among the angel-winged shadows of her glorious ciifis, has 
given heart-felt proof of the abiding purity, and strength of that 
" first love " for Yo Semite. 

This mere glimpse of the enchanting prospect seemed to fill 
our souls to overflowing with gratified delight, that was onh^ 
manifest in unbidden tears. Our lips were speechless from thanks- 
giving awe. Neither the language of tongue nor pen, nor the most 
perfect successes of art, can approximately present that picture. 
It was sublimity materialized in granite, and beauty crystallized 
into object forms, and both drawing us nearer to the Infinite One. 

It would be difficult to tell how long Ave looked lingeringly 
at this unexpected revelation ; for, 

" With thee conversing, I forget all time." 

Our sketches finished — the first probably ever taken — the fast- 
lengthening shadows admonished a postponement of that intensely 
pleasui-able experience, and in response we hastened our descent 
to the camp-ground on the floor of the valley. 



It was late in the night before the nervous excitement, 
created by our imposing surroundings, permitted " sleep to come 
to our eyes, or slumber to our eyelids;" and, even then, from our 
dreams arose the shadowy forms of a new species of genii ! After 
a substantial breakfast, made palatable by that best of all sauces, 
a good appetite, and the sun had begun to wink at us from 
between the pine trees on the mountain tops, or to throw shimmer- 
ing lances down among the peaks and crags, we commenced our 
entrancing pilgrimage up the valley. 

A few advancing footsteps brought us to the foot of a all, 
whose charming presence had long challenged our admiration; 
and, as we stood watching the changing drapery of its watery 
folds, the silence was eventually broken by my remark, "Is it not 
as graceful, and as beautiful, as the veil of a bride?" to which 
Mr. Ayers rejoined, " That is suggestive of a very pretty and 
most apposite name. I propose that we now baptize it, and call 
it, ' The Bridal Veil Fall, ' as one that is both characteristic and 
euphonious." This was instantly concurred in by each of our 
party, and has since been so known, and called, by the general 
public. This, then, was the time, and these the circumstances, 


About its Indian appellation and signification, with its legends 
and associations, more wall be said in a future chapter. 

Our progress upon the south side of the valley — the one on 
which we had entered it — was soon estopped by an immense 
deposit of rocky talus, that compelled us to ford the ^Merced 
River. Advancing upward upon its northern bank, after thread- 
ing our way among trees, or around huge blocks of granite that 
were indiscriminately scattered about, passing scene after scene 
of unutterable sublimity, and sketching those deemed most note- 
worthy; again crossing and recrossing the river, we found 
our.selves in immediate proximity to the "'water-fall a thousand 



feet high," and which had been the magnetic incentive to our 
visit to Yo Semite. This, from our measurements of prostrate 
pine-trees, by which was estimated the height of those standing 
(as we had no instruments with us adapted to such purposes^, we 
deduced its altitude to be from fifteen to eighteen hundred feet ! 
By subsequent actual measurements of the State Geological sur- 
vey, its absolute height is given at 2,634 feet; with \vhich those 
made by the Wheeler survey, under Lieut. M. M. Macomb, IT. S. 
A., very closely approximate. This inadequate realization of 
heights at Yo Semite is often strikingly manifest in visitors, on 
their first advent, even at the present day. 

"to-Coy-ak" and " Tis-sA-ACK." (^soi'tli, and South, or, Hall 1>oiiil'.) 
[From a sketch taken in 1855.] 

It will be both unnecessary and inexpedient to detain the 
reader, now, with detailed recitals of the many objects of interest 
witnessed on this ramble, inasmuch as they are to be more fully 
presented with illustrations, in succeeding chapters. It may, 


however, be desirable here to mention that our explorations were 
limited to the valley, terminating at Mirror Lake — so named by 
our party. We did not see the " Vernal " or " Nevada " Falls, 
and only the Too-lool-we-ack, or Glacier Canon Fall, from the 
Mirror Lake trail. But we had seen sufficient to fill our hearts 
with gratitude that the All Father had created so many majestic 
and beautiful objects for human eyes to feast upon, that thereby 
humanity might grow nearer to Him, and thenceforth be nobler, 
higher, purer, and better for the sight. 

We spent five glorious days in luxurious scenic banqueting 
here, the memory of which is, like the mercies of the Almighty, 
"new every morning, and fresh every evening." We left it 
reluctantly, even when our sketch and note-books were as full to 
repletion with elevating treasures, as our souls were with loving 
veneration for their wondeiful Author. I believe that each one 
of us was responsively in sympathy with Byron, as expressed in 
the following lines from "Childe Harold:"— 

" I love not man the less, but Nature more, 
From these our interviews, in which I steal 
From all I may be, or have been before, 
To mingle with the Universe, and feel 
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal." 


Our return to the settlements was the signal for the curious 
and inquisitive to besiege and interview us with eager question- 
ings, to ascertain what we had seen and experienced; for there 
was a vague novelty in such a trip in those days. ' Among these 
came the editor of the Mariposa Gazette, Mr. L. A. Holmes (the 
memory of whom is still lovingly enshrined in the hearts of all 
who intimately knew him), and requested a full rehearsal of all 
the sights we had seen. Compliance with so reasonable a request 
was attended with a modest exposition of our sketches, accom- 
panied with explanatory remarks to elucidate them. These ended, 
Mr. Holmes thus addressed the writer: — 

" Mr. H., I have been quite ill all this week. My paper has 


to make an appearance day after to-morrow or , and I have 

not been able to write a line for it, yet. You can therefore see 
that you would infinitely oblige me, if you were to sit down at 
that table there and throw me off an article upon what you have 
seen in this county, to help me out." 

The response promptly came, " All right. I will do so. I 
take real pleasure in helping a man out of a corner, if I can, when 
he finds himself in one." Accordingly, a descriptive sketch of 
what had been seen was written for Mr. Holmes, and was pub- 
lished in the Mariposa Gazette of about July 12, 1855. 


This sketch happened to enlist the attention of journalists, 
was copied into most of the leading newspapers of the day, 
and for the first time the attention of the public, generally, was 
awakened towards the marvelous scenery of the Yo Semite Valley. 
In this connection it should be remembered that it is not by any 
means claimed that ours was the first party making the trip 
there, nor that the first article written concerning it; but, inas- 
much as the sentiment accredited to Cicero, 

"Justice renders to every man his clue," 

Will, in the interests of historical accuracy, permit the statement 
that, whether from preoccupied attention, or other causes, the 
fact remains the same that the Yo Semite Valley, at that time, 
was as a sealed hook to the general public, and that it was our 
good fortune to be instrumental in opening its sublime pages to 
the public eye, that it might be "known and read of all men." 
Fiat jiistitia, ruat coelwrn. 


In and around Mariposa the new revelation seems to have 
become the theme of many tongues, as plans were discussed and 
parties organized for visiting it. Early the ensuing August two 
companies of kindred spirits, one of seventeen from Mariposa, and 
another of ten from Sherlock's Creek, an adjacent mining camp, 



started in search of the new scenic El Dorado ; the former party- 
engaged the same Indians as guides who had conducted us there 
so successfully, and the latter was led by Mr. E. W. Haughton, 
who had accompanied the Savage expedition, under Captain 
Boling, in 1851. The members of the last-mentioned company 


And as this was an event of untold importance in the develop- 
ment of the stupendous scenery of Yo Semite, great pleasure is 
taken in transcribing portions of Mr. James H. La-SA^'ence's 
deeply interesting and graphic account of it — he being one of the 
party — given in the Overland Monthly for October, 1884: — 

As I must trust to memory alone for the names of my companions, not 

even knowing whether any of 
them are still alive, the list is 
necessarily incomplete. There 
were two of the Mann brothers, 
Milton and Houston, abbreviated 
to "Milt" and "Hugh," E. W. 
Haughton, J. E. Connor, Geo. C. 
Dickerman, a man by the name of 
Priest, the long-legged boy [V], 
and one other, whose name is for- 
gotten. "The party was com- 
posed of ten as fearless spirits 
and noble-hearted fellows as ever 
shouldered a rifle or gathered 
around a camp-fire." 

E. "W. Haughton, who was with 
the Boling expedition in 1851, 
was our guide. Two pack-mules 
loaded with blankets, a few cook- 
ing utensils, and some provisions, 
constituted our camp outfit; while a half-breed blood-hound, whose owner 
claimed that he was "the best dog on the Pacific Coast," and who 
answered to the name of "Ship," trotted along with the pack-mules. 
There was some talk about going mounted, but the proposition was voted 
down by a handsome majority, on the ground that superfluous animals 
were " too much bother." 



In fancy, I see them yet, and hear the ringing chorus, the exultant 
whoop, and the genuine, unrestrained laughter at the camp-fire. It would 
be worth a year of humdrum civilized society life to recall the reality of 
one week of the old time. 

One evening, after a series of dare-devil escapades for no other pur- 
pose except to demonstrate how near a man can come to breaking his 
neck and miss it, some one suggested an expedition up the main river, 
above the valley. Haugliton was ajjpealed to for information. He fa- 
vored the projiosition, and said he would cheerfully make one of the party. 
As for information, he had none to give; neither he nor any of the Boling 
expedition ever dreamed of attempting it. They came on business — not 
to see sights or explore for new fields of wonder. Their mission was hunt- 
ing Indians. There was no sign of a trail. It was a deep, rough caiion, 
filled with immense bowlders, through which the river seethed and roared 
with a deafening sound, and there had never been seen a foot-print of 
white man or Indian in that direction. The canon was considered 

There was a chorus of voices in response. 

"That's the word." 

•" Say it again." 

*' Just what we are hunting." 

" We want something rough." 

"We'll tackle that caiion in the morning." 

" An early start, now." 

It was so ordered. " AVith the first streak of daylight you'll hear me 
crow," was Connor's little speech as he rolled himself in his blankets. 
Next morning we were up and alive, pursuant to programme. Everybody 
seemed anxious to get ahead. 

Three of us — Milton J. Mann, G. C. Pearson, and the writer of this 
sketch — lingered to arrange the camp-fixtures, for everybody was going 
up the caiion. When we came to the Glacier Caiion, or Tuloolweack, our 
friends were far in advance of us. We could hear them up the canon 
shouting, their voices mingling with the roar of the waters. A brief con- 
sultation, and we came to the resolve to diverge from the main river and 
try to effect an ascent between that stream and the canon. It looked like 
a perilous undertaking, and there were some doubts as to the result; never- 
theless, the conclusion was to see how far we could go. Away up, up, far 
above us, skirting the base of what seemed to be a perpendicular cliff, 
there was a narrow belt of timber. That meant a plateau or strip of land 
comparatively level. If we could only reach that, it was reasonable to 
suppose that we could get around the face of the cliff. "Then we will 
6ee sio-hts," was the expression of one of the trio. What we expected to 


discover somewhere up the main stream was a lake or perhaps a succes- 
sion of lakes — such having been the result of the explorations up the 
Pyweali Canon, and mountain lakes being not unfrequently noted as a 
feature of the sources of mountain streams. 

But to reach the plateau — that was the problem. It was a fearful 
climb. Over and under and around masses of immense rocks, jumping 
across chasms at imminent risk of life and limb, keeping a bright lookout 
for soft places to fall, as well as for the best way to circumvent the next 
obstacle, after about three hours' wrestling, " catch as catch can," with 
that grim old mountain-side, we reached the timber. Here, as we had 
surmised, was enough of level ground for a foothold, and here we took a 
rest, little dreaming of the magnificent scene in store for us when we 
rounded the base of the cliff. 

The oft-quoted phrase, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever," was 
never more fully realized. The picture is photographed on the tablets of 
my memory in indelible colors, and is as fresh and bright to-day as was 
the first impression twenty-nine years ago. To the tourist who beholds it 
for the first time, the Nevada Fall, with its wierd surroundings, is a view 
of rare and picturesque beauty and grandeur. The rugged clifis, the 
summits fringed with stunted pine and juniper bounding the canon on 
the southern side, the " Cap of Liberty" standing like a huge sentinel 
overlooking the scene at the north, the foaming caldron at the foot of the 
fall, the rapids below, the flume where the stream glides noiselessly but 
with lightning speed over its polished granite bed, making the preparatory 
run for its plunge over the Vernal Fall, form a combination of rare effects, 
leaving upon the mind an impression that years cannot efface. But the 
tourist is in a measure prepared. He has seen the engravings and pho- 
tographic views, and read descriptions written by visitors who have 
preceded him. To us it was the opening of a sealed volume. Long we 
lingered and admiringly gazed upon the grand panorama, till the descend- 
ing sun admonished us that we had no time to lose in making our way 

Our companions arrived long ahead of us. "Supper is waiting," 
announced the chief cook; " ten minutes later and you would have fared 
badly; for we are hungry as wolves." 

" Eeckon you've been loafing," chimed in another. " You should 
have been with us. We struck a fall away up at the head of the canon, 
about four hundred feet high." 

"Have you? We saw your little old four hundred-foot fall and go 
you four hundred better " — and then we proceeded to describe our trip, 
and the discovery which was its result. 

The bovs wouldn't have it. None of them were professional sports, 

96 jx Tin: in: ART of the sierras. 

but they would hazard a little on a horse-race, a turkey-shooting, or a 
friendly game of "draw" — filling the elegant definition of the term 
"gambler" as given by one of the faternity, viz.: "A gentleman who 
backs his opinion with coin." Connor was the most voluble. He got 
excited over it, and made several rash propositions. 

"Tell me," said he, "that you went further up the caiion than we 
didV We went till we butted up against a perpendicular wall which a 
wild cat couldn't scale. The whole Merced Eiver falls over it. Why, a 
bird couldn't fly beyond where we went. Of course, you think you have 
been further up the river, but you are just a little bit dizzy. I'll go you a 
small wad of gold-dust that the fall you have found is the same as ours." 

Connor was gently admonished to keep his money — to win it was like 
finding it in the road — nay, worse; it would be downright robbery — but 
to make the thing interesting we would wager a good supper — best 
we could get in camp, with the "trimmings" — upon our return home, 
that we had been higher up the caiion, and that our fall beat theirs in 
altitude. It was further agreed that one of us should accompany the 
party as guide. 

" Better take along a rope — it might help you over the steep places," 
was a portion of our advice, adding by Avay of caution to "hide it 
away from Connor " when they returned, for "he would feel so mean that 
he would want to hang himself." 

To Pearson, Avho was ambitious to show off his qualities as a moun- 
tain guide, was delegated the leadership — an arrangement which was 
mutually satisfactory — "Milt" agreeing with me that a day's rest would 
be soothing and healthful. Besides, we had laid a plan involving a deep 
strategy to capture some of those immense trout, of which we had occa- 
sional glimpses, lying under the bank, but which were too old and cunning 
to be beguiled with the devices of hook and line. 

The plan was carried out, on both sides, to a successful issue. On our 
part, we secured two of the largest trout ever caught in the valley, and 
had them nicely dressed, ready for the fry-pan, when our companions 
returned, which was about sunset. Soon as they came within hailing dis- 
tance, their cheerful voices rang out (Connor's above all the rest), "We 
give it up!" They were in ecstasies, and grew eloquent in praise of the 
falls and scenery, at the same time paying us many compliments. 

A courier was dispatched to notify the Mariposa party of our dis- 
covery. It was a surprise to them, but they had made their arrangements 
to leave for home early the next mol-ning. They regretted the necessity, 
but business arrangements compelled their departure. 

Upon the return of our party to San Francisco, the writer, 


being in pleasant intimacy with the late Rev. W. A. Scott, D. D., 
and family, paid them a visit, when the subject of the scenery 
of the Yo Semite was discussed, and sketches shown. The doctoi' 
manifested remarkable interest in the theme, and added: " Mr. 
H., I am badly in need of a vacation, and if I can induce a 
number of my friends to join me, I should like very much to visit 
such a marvelous locality. I shall esteem it a personal favor 
to myself if you will dine with us at an early day, on which 
occasion I will invite a few intimate friends to join us, and dis- 
cuss the subject of visiting that astonishingly magnificent creation. " 
This invitation was cordially accepted, and in due time and order 
the proposed dinner party assembled, when the matter was thor- 
oughly canvassed, and a company formed for making the journey. 
On the evening of their arrival in Mariposa, on the way up, it 
was their o-ood fortune to meet some of the members of the IMari- 
posa party, just returned from Yo Semite; from these additional 
information was received, and timely suggestions made, born of 
recent experiences. The Indian guides, Kos-sum and So-pin, 
having satisfactorily conducted themselves on each former occa- 
sion, and being now at liberty, were reengaged by the Scott 
party. After a very satisfactory and soul-satisfying jaunt, Dr. 
Scott, upon his return to San Francisco, gave several eloquent 
discourses, and published some tersely written articles upon it. 
His magnetic enthusiasm largely contributed to the development 
of an interest in the minds of the public, to witness such sublime 
scenes as those he had so graphically portrayed. From that day 
to this the great valley has been visited — and by tens of thousands; 
but this ivas the inauguration of tourist travel to Yo Semite. 

In October, 1855, was published a lithographic view of the 
Yo Semite Fall (then called Yo-Ham-i-te), from the sketch taken 
for the writer by Mr. Thomas Ayres, in the preceding June, and 
which was the first pictorial representation of any scene in the 
great valley ever given to the public. 



Though varying wishes, hopes, and fears, 
Fevered the progress of those years, 
Yet now, days, weeks, and months, but seem 
The recollection of a dream. 

— Scott's Marmion, Canto IV. 

There is no life of a man, faithfully recorded, but is a heroic poem of its sort. 

— Carlyle's Essays. 
The west yet glimmers with some streaks of day; 
Now spurs the lated ti'aveler apace, 
To gain the timely inn. 

— Shakespear's Macbeth, Act III. 

As time rolled on, delighted visitors kept flocking to Yo 
Semite. The dangerous roughness, and uncertainty of the old 
Indian trails (where there were any), or the inconveniences and 
discomforts of open-air life, in no way deterred or discouraged 
them. This induced two enterprising brothers, Milton and Hous- 
ton Mann, in 1850- — who had formed a portion of the Sherlock's 
Creek party the preceding year — to survey and construct a new 
horse-path from " Clark's," on the south fork of the Merced, to 
the valley. This was completed in August, 1856, and opened as 
a toll trail. Proving unremunerative as such, it was subsequently 
sold to the county of Mariposa, at about one-third of its cost, and 
made free. Every visitor that has passed over this trail in early 
days will call to pleasant memory the unpretentious hospitality 
and comfort of the wayside inn known as "Peregoy's;" and never 
forget the emotions evoked by the magnificent view of the distant 
Sierras from "the meadows," or the inexpressively impressive 
scenes from "Inspiration Point," and " Mt. Beatitude." Now, 
these are seldom seen except by sheep and cattle herders, who 


make the succulent pastures of these mountain steppes a place of 
temporary refuge for themselves and flocks, during the summer 


The liberal patronage coming from the public to hotel keepers, 
livery men, and others upon the line of travel from Mariposa to 
Yo Semite, became a strong incentive to the business men of 
Coulterville and Big Oak Flat to seek similar advantages for 
themselves. Accordingly, mountaineers were sent among the 
forest solitudes beyond those settlements, trails surveyed, built, and 
soon thronged with expectant pilgrims on their wa}^ to the new 
Mecca of scenic devotion. About this time, moreover, the newly 
discovered " diggings " of Mono (now included in the Bodie Min- 
ing District) were attracting great attention from miners and 
traders, and very naturally intensified the interest in all such enter- 
prises, and stimulated their rapid completion. Scarcely a turn 
could be made upon either of these routes without revealing 
some wonderful picture of majesty or of beauty. 

In the earliest infancy of trail travel to Yo Semite, 


And to many there was, and still is, a peculiar charm about 
camp-life in the country that is unknown and unexperienced in 
the world's crowded thoroughfares. The absence of certain 
civilized formulas and restraints ; its freedom from ordinary cares ; 
its opportunities for buoyant dilatation and cheerfulness; its con- 
stantly recurring changes; its tendencies to develop the best 
(and, sometimes, the worst) of human qualities; its resultant 
trending to fearlessness; its uniform healthiness, in a climate like 
that of California, and especially in the mountains; and, certainly 
not among the smallest of these considerations, is its uniform 
economy (and which, in these latter days, is by no means the 
least), unite to make " camping out " one of the most invigorating 
and enjoyable of divertisements. But successful camping out 
is "a fine art," and it is not every one that can efiiciently man- 


age, or successfully conduct it. A few hints upon this will be 
found in a future chapter. 

An "overwhelming majority" of tourists, however, do not 
like to camp out. Some there are who could not if they would; 
and there are othei's who would not if they could. For these, 
therefore, hotel accommodation became desirable. 


To meet such emergencies, a very primitive kind of a house, 
the frame of which consisted of pine poles — some of them set in 
the ground to form posts — and the covering of " shakes," or 
" boards," riven from logs of pine, its gable, or triangular end, 
forming the front, was commenced in the fall of 1856, near the 
location known as "Black's," by Messrs. Anderson, Ramsdell, 
Coward, and Walsworth ; but which was not finished that year. 

Almost simultaneously with those movements, Mr. S. M. 
Cunningham and Mr. Buck Beardsley formed a co-partnership 
for hotel and trading purposes at Yo Semite, and' started for the 
valley ; 1 )ut a heavy snow-storm compelling a retreat, they cached 
their tools and supplies, and returned to their old residence on Bull 
Creek, to spend the winter. Early the following March, they 
again set their faces for Yo Semite, where they arrived March 17, 
1857. As Beardsley had to return with the pack-mules, Cunning- 
ham was left entirely alone. This latter remark may need a little 
qualification, inasmuch as he was surrounded by a large band of 
Indians, who, on account of a bounteous acorn crop the preceding 
fall (acorns forming the Indian staple of bread-stuff), had made 
an unusually early visit this year. But these gave him no trouble. 

Cunningham and Beardsley erected a " shake " cabin* just 
above the other location, and at once commenced business. These, 
eventually, buying out the interests of the others above named, 
finished the building commenced by them, and occupied it. Dur- 
ing the winter of 1857-58 the heavy snows broke down the 
new building, and constrained the erection of another more sub- 

*Afterwards temporarily occupied by Mr. T. Hill, ilr. W. Keith, Mr. Virgil 
Williams, and other artists. 


stantial, in 1858. This was opened and kept, for S. M. Cunnino- 
hani (who had separated his business connection with Mr. Beards- 
ley in the fall of 1857), by Mr. and Mrs. John H. Neal, who thus 


The following seasons of 1859-60 it was kept by its owner, 
Mr. Cunningham. In 1861, these premises were sold to Mrs. A. 
G. Black — then living at Bull Creek — ^who rented it to Mr. P. 
Longhurst, and others; and, in after years, to Mr. G. F. Leidig, 
until occupied by her husband and herself, in 1869, by whom 
it was taken down to make way for other much-needed improve- 
ments. Not a vestige now remains of this pioneer structure to 
mark the spot where it stood. Unassuming and simple as it was, 
many eminent persons, known to fame, once found shelter beneath 
its humble roof. 

After Beardsley's co-partnership with Cunningham had 
ceased, he united Avith Mr. G. Hite — brother to the successful 
miner and millionaire, Mr. John Hite, of " Hite's Cove" — when, 
in the fall of 1857, the}^ commenced the business of hotel keeping 
and trading, in a blue tent, while preparing the timbers for the 
building now knr)wn as 


As this was much more commodious than the other, its con- 
struction was necessarily attended with more difficulties and 
expense; especially wdiere everything had to be "created" — so to 
speak — upon the spot, or brought fifty miles on pack-mules. As 
there was no saw-mill for their needed supply of lumber, every 
board or plank, rafter or joist, had to be hewed, or cut out by 
whip-saw. These primitive contrivances took time as well as 
money, so that the new structure could not be utilized for visitors 
until May, 1859. Soon after its formal opening, Mr. C. L. Weed, 
the pioneer photographer of Yo Semite, Rev. F. C. Ewer and fam- 
ily. Miss M. Neill, and the writer, were among its first guests. 
The accompanying illustration is from the first photograph ever 
taken in Yo Semite, and by C. L. Weed, in June, 1859. 



Owing to a heavy indebtedness incurred in building the hotel, 
and the lack of success attending the first " Fourth of July Party" 
given, for which extensive preparations had been made, and from 
which much had been expected, its projectors and builders, unable 
to meet their obligations, assigned it to creditors for their protec- 
tion. The following two years it was leased to Mr. Charles Peck, 
then to Mr. P. Longhurst, after which it was either let tempora- 
rily, or remained closed, until purchased by the writer in 1864. 

In this connection it may be remarked that at that time the 
land here was a part of the public domain of the United States, 
and as such was considered to be open to preemption and settle- 
ment under the Pre- 
emption Laws of the 
United States. Being 
unsurveyed, however, 
as no regular plot 
could be filed of any 
given portion of it in 
the United States Land 
Office, its location, giv- 
ing metes and bounds, 
was entered upon the 
records of the county, 
and such entry was 
interpreted as a legal guarantee of title, until surveyed by the 
United Sta+^s, and in the market. Under this impression settle- 
ments were made, titles respected, and frequent transfers of such 
title given from one to the other, without their validity being 
questioned. And it is a matter of historical interest to state that, 
at one time (about 1860), an enterprising citizen secured nearly 
the whole of such titles, and put them all into a " Grand Lottery 
Scheme," for the purpose of raffling off the entire valley to the 
"lucky winner." But a "justifiable" number of tickets not 
having been sold, most of the money (as his enemies assert) was 
(un)returned, and the speculation abandoned. 




The blood more stirs 
To rouse a lion than to start a hare. 

— Shakespear's Henry IV., Part I., Act I. 
I argue not 
Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot 
Of heart or hope; but still bear up and steer 
Eight on^^■ard. 

— Milton's Sonnet. 

God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb. 

—Sterne's Sentimental Journey. 

That inestimable of earthly blessings called "health," having 
given unerrable premonitions of early departure, from more than 
one member of our little home circle, the family physician was 
duly consulted, who gave emphatic enunciation to the opinion 
that unless we left the city at an early day, we should soon do so 
from the world; we concluded the former journey — being the 
shortest, best known, and upon the whole the pleasantest to take, 
for the present — would be the most desirable. This point satis- 
factorily determined, without a single "if" or "but," the question 
naturally presented itself, "Where can we go?" Resolving our- 
selves into a "Committee of Consultation," the "pros" and 
"cons" of different localities were considered, when its feminine 
members unequivocally expressed their decided preferences for 
Yo Semite. Now, is it not a reasonable question to ask any man 
"not set in his ways," if there would be more than one coarse left 
him, under the circumstances, and that one "innuediate and 
unconditional surrender" — especially when in perfect concert 
with his own predelictions and convictions? So, Yo Semite was 
chosen. Another and equally pertinent inquiry now interposed, 



" What can we do after our arrival there? " We could not sup- 
port physical life on scenery, sublimely beautiful as it unquestion- 
ably was ! What then ? It was tiue we had some means, but to 
live upon and absorb them, in comparative indolence, or unpro- 
ductive personal occupation, was as repellant to every ennobling 
intuition as it was adverse to provident business foresight. This 
momentous conundrum, therefore, was propounded to the ladies, 
and was instantly met with another, " A\'hy cannot we keep 
hotel? " Why, indeed! There was at least one condition in our 
favor, not knowing- anything about such a luisiness we possessed 
the usual qualifications for conducting it. This was something! 
Leai'n it? Certainly. Of course we could; but what were the 
much-tried public to do in the unpleasant interim? Yes, it is 
very easy to answer, ' ' Do as we would do, and as they have al- 
ways done. Try your best ; take the best that you can find ; and 
make the best of what you get." But good meals, well cooked, 
and pleasantly served, with clean-bed accompaniments, are always 
preferred by the public to either philosophy or argument. 

All objections being gracefully overruled, it was decided that 
in the early spring we should move all our earthly goods, our- 
selves, and household gods, to Yo Semite, and there enter into 
the mysterious and unthankful calling of "hotel keepers." 
Accordingly, our books, chinaware, and other dispensable articles, 
were carefully packed, at leisurable intei vals, so as to anticipate 
possible hurry at the start. The sky of our future was not only 
filled with beatified castles, but was brilliant with the prismatic 
colors of Hope; and, although 

" Hope, like the gleaming taper's light. 
Adorns and cheers our way; 
And still, as darker grows the night, 
Emits a brighter ray," 

At this particular season of day-dreaming expectancy 


Brought by that ill-omened and unprincipled old storm-fiend 
known as Dame Rumor, who asseverated, with untold assurance, 


that " no one could ever make a permanent winter home in Yo 
Semite, inasmuch as snow from the surrovmding mountains 
drifted into it, as into a deep railroad-cut, and filled it half full," 
and as its granite walls were from three thousand three hundred 
to six thousand feet in height, the half of that amount, in snow 
banks, under the most liberal provision — even including a gener- 
ous supply for fashionable drinks — might well be deemed excessive 
for the ordinary pui-poses of residence there in winter, notwith- 
standing its admitted value, in reasonable quantities, for snow- 
shoe evolutions. There could be no doubt of the tenability of 
tkese deductions from such premises. No one could be found who 
had ever been there in winter, therefore no one could be appealed 
to for the affirmation or contradiction of these stories from Madam 
Rumor. Therefore before accepting the responsibility of removing 
the family to such a spot, proof must be positive this way or the 
other. But one path seemed open for making it so, and duty 
impelled me to take it, and it was this,^ — 


On the afternoon of the first day of January, 1862, therefore, 
although vast banks of clouds had, for several days, been drifting 
up from the south and indicated an approaching rain, the home 
valedictory was spoken, and departure made by steamboat for 
Stockton, There were no railroads here in those days. On the 
following morning, January 2, a seat was secured upon the out- 
going stage, to a ranch some few miles out, where my horse was 
kept, and whence I soon started on my mystery-resolving ex- 

Before many miles had been traversed, the threatened rain 
began to fall, heavily, and to compel a shelter in the nearest way- 
side house. This was continued for the whole of that day, and 
the next, and the two days followrug. A few hours' suspension 
of hostilities on the fifth day enabled me to agam renew the 
journey. But this time, however, all the shallow hollows across 
the road had been converted into deep streams, and the ravines 
into rushing torrents. The difficulty, if not danger of fording 




these swollen streams suggested necessary delay for their subsi- 
dence ; and the expense of horse-keeping, the desirability of return- 
ing him to the ranch, and continuing the trip afoot. Carrying 
out these presumptive conjectures and chafing at the long pro- 
longed freaks of the warring elements, frequent efforts at progress 
were attempted, during every cessation of the down-pour. Pass- 
ing on from one way-side inn to another, during Ijrief inter- 
missions of the storm, and by frequent wadings of water-courses 
up to the chin, Coulterville, seventy -one miles from Stockton, was 
finally reached on the evening of the seventeenth day from the 
latter city! This, verily, was the "pursuit of knowledge under 


Nor was this other than the beginning of the end, inasmuch 
as the inundating rain kept pouring down for five successive 


additional days; and news arrived of the sweeping away of 
bridges and ferry-boats; the tearing up of roads, and the discon- 
tinuation of stage and mail communication; the floating otF of 
houses, and the general flooding of the valleys. By natural rea- 
soning, therefore, the inquiry enforced consideration, "If these are 
the doings of the storm within the boundaries of civilized settle- 
ments, what must they not have been beyond their confines in the 
mountains?" Ought a reluctance to acknowledge defeat be 
allowed to resist the teachings of common prudence? Who could 
accomplish impossibilities ? Why not return, and await a bright- 
ening prospect, for its accomplishment? 

" When valor preys on reason, 
It eats the sword it fights with. " 

These considerations admonished postponement and regression. 
But how accomplish the latter, with all the ordinary avenues of 
return closed up? Conferences with other storm -bound travelers 
provided a way. We would accomplish it by water. There 
could be no question about this method from cj^uantitive reasons. 
Four of us, therefore, united our energies and resources, and dis- 
patched one of our number to Merced Falls, on the Merced River, 
to have a suitable boat constructed for 


Hearing of this, Mr. McKean Buchanan, well known to his- 
trionic fame in those days, who had, with his troupe, been per- 
forming at " Snellings," upon the eve of this unusual effluence, 
and been confined there ever since, desired to join us in our novel 
method of exit. This was cheerily conceded, and the uncertain 
cruise commenced. Nearly every man, woman, and child resid- 
ing near Snellings was present at our departure. 

At this time the river upon which we were to venture had 
largely overflowed its banks, was over a quarter of a mile in 
width, and its waters had become a rushing, foaming torrent. 
But out upon its angry bosom we pushed our little craft, and 
were instantly hurried down it at the rate of about fifteen miles 
an hour. Just before dusk, an immense gathering of drift had 


given a sudden sweep to the surging stream, and forced us to a 
choice between two alternatives — -either to jeopard the capsizing 
of our boat upon the drift, or risk its being swamped by shooting 
through a narrow opening in it, with an abrupt descent of nearly 
three feet, through which the water was precipitately plunging. 
We chose the latter, our steersman shouting, " Pull hard on the 
oars — pull with all your might;" and, fortunately, the passage 
was safely accomplished without shipping a quart. 


Not so, with our fellow-voyagers, however, who, fearing to 
follow us, had chosen the alternative we had declined, and their 
boat was ovei'turned upon the drift. This happening far from 
the shore, and among numerous cross-currents, with darkness 
closing in, made deliverance impossible before looming. Here,,*, 
then, they had to remain through the long night, in their wet 
clothing, without creature comforts, encompassed by surging 
rapids that might at any moment tear away their insecure foot- 
hold, and without knowledge of pro1)a1)le extrication, their l)oat 
having floated away. 

As illustrative of the devastation caused by the present storm, 
it should here be mentioned, that on the very spot where we had 
moored our wlierry, there formerly stood a handsome dwelling, 
surrounded by fertile gardens, and fruitful orchards; but now, 
the very soil, upon wliich they were so recently standing had been 
washed awav, leavino- a sad scene; of sorrow-stirring desolation on 
every hand. The house furniture had been hastily removed, only 
in time to prevent its floating ofl' with the hous^^ and now lay 
scattered high upon the river's bank, exposed to the elements. 

Our breakfast Are was kindled long before day-dawn, so as 
to be in readiness to i-ender assistance at the earliest possible mo- 
ment ; and as its flrst gleams shot up into the darkness, cries for 
help that had died away with the fire on the previous night, were 
again most eagerly renewed. To us those cries were rejoicmg 
music, as they assured us of the continued safety of those to whom 
we hoped soon to bear deliverance. 


Climbing up the bluff l)ank that here bounded the river, so that 
we could overlook the watery waste below, and definitely ascer- 
tain the exact position of our imprisoned companions, and the 
best way of reaching them, we saw in the shadowy distance the 
forms of five men approaching, followed by troops of hogs! The 
foremost of the men proved to be the owner of the house and 
lands, once his possessions here, and who, with his assistants, had 
come to obtain some wet grain that was stored in the onl}^ build- 
ing left, standing on an island of the river, from which to feed his 
hogs. When made aware of the circumstances or the case, he 
kindly tendered us assistance. Selecting two of his most trusty 
hands, after declining our proffered help, and preferring his own 
boat to ours, he launched out upon the rushing current, and was 
soon lost amid undei'brush and whirling eddies. 


But a few minutes had elapsed before there arose new cries 
for help, as this boat also had capsized, when its occupants nar- 
rowly escaped drowning. Now there were six to be rescued 
instead of three. Reinforcements for their succor must be 
obtained, and immediately. Dispatching two men in each direc- 
tion, up and down the river, for this purpose, the two remain- 
ing prepared the boat for service, and investigated the water-swept 
Country, so as to render efficient assistance when other help 
arrived. Appeal was not in vain; and, by three o'clock, all were 
at last delivered from their perilous position. 


As Buchanan's boat had been found upon a drift, we pro- 
posed to share our provisions and continue the voyage. To this, 
however, he would not listen. "No," said he, "I will return to 
my wife at Snellings. I would not, for the world. ha\e any 
other lips than my own tell her the story of this great misfort- 
une. Her nerves are so utterly unstrung by recent experiences 
that the shock would prove fatal to her. Why, sir, we were in 
the Snellings Hotel when the flood entirely surrounded us, and it. 


We felt the building moving, when my wife and daughter, with 
myself, took the precaution to climb an oak tree that stood by 
the porch; and just as we had reached it, the entire edifice, with 
all its contents, floated off, sir ! In less than three-quarters of an 
hour after our deliverance, sir, from the tree, the tree itself was 
washed away. Then to add this to that sorrow, indiscreetly, would 
be altogether too nuich — too much — for her, I assure you, sir." 

But, when returning, another mishap overtook him — he lost 
his way, and spent this night also a shelterless wanderer! Just 
before morning he saw an empty wagon, stalled in a muddy cross- 
road, and lay down in it to rest and sleep ; but the cold awoke him 
as day was breaking, when he discovered this to be his own 
vehicle! — and only half a mile from town! Mr. Buchanan's first 
voyage down the Merced, therefore, would not be cherished as 
an altogether pleasant memory. 


On the following day we continued our boating excursion 
down the Merced to its confluence with the San Joaquin River, 
spending the night m the second story of Hill's Ferry House, the 
first story being underwater. But even here we were compelled to 
utilize the table tops for both cook-stove and chairs, and only the 
upper berths could be used for sleeping. A strong north wind, 
blowing squarely in our faces, so much retarded our progress on the 
San Joaquin (then several miles wide in places) that six days of 
hard rowing were required to reach the city of Stockton, although 
only sixty miles distant. Here we gratefully left our boat for 
use among the streets of that city — then in a flooded condition 
— and secured passage on the outgoing steamboat for San Fran- 
cisco; and which, owing to the very high stage of water, shot 
straight across the overflowed tule lands, instead of following the 
usual course of the river. Thus ended the first effort to explore 
the Yo Semite Valley in winter, and proved the aptness of Burns' 
sentiment (addressed to a mouse), 

" The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men, 
Gang aft a-gley." 




In the ensuing March, as the problem whether or not the great 
Valley could be safely occupied as a place of residence in wintei-, 
remained unsolved; and the same cloud of uncertainty still hov- 
ered over our movements, and would so continue to do, unless 
that theorem was resolved by actual demonstration, another 
jaunt was accordingly planned, and this time via Mariposa. 
Here two others volunteered to accompany me, as they also were 
anxious to see the Yo Semite in her winter robes. Three of us, 
therefore, set out on this pilgrimage. Colonel Fine, of Mormon 
Bar, kindly loaned us a donkey to pack our necessary stores to 
the snow-line, beyond which each man had to be his own pack 
animal. At Clark's — now called " Wawona' ' — we were hospitably 
entertained by its owner, who was one of our party. Here the 
unsettled weather detained us for three days. On the fourth we 
shouldered our loads and set out. A brighter morning never 
dawned. That evening we camped in about ten inches of snow ; 
but this was soon cleaied away; and, around a large camp -lire, 
many stories were told to beguile away the hours. 

Early on the morrow we were again upon our course — the 
trail being covered up. About nine o'clock, snow had deep- 
ened to the knees, and every step was one requiring effort. A 
fatiguing climb of one snow-covered mountain spur but revealed 
another, and, still beyond, another ; the silvery covering increasing 
in depth as we advanced. At length one of our companions 
dropped his pack, and himself upon it, at the same instant, 
exclaiming, "I'll be danged [he never swore] if I go any further. 
I know we can never get through. Besides, this is too much like 
work for me [but few more industrious men ever lived]. I pro- 
pose that we all go back, and wait until some of this snow melts 
off." To this my other companion gave reluctant concurrence. 

At this crisis of affairs another consideration enforced itself 
upon our attention: How could the ivinter status of the Valley 
be ascertained if we waited until spring or summer came ? This 


was intended as a convincing argument to induce a forward 
movement; but, to make a long story as short as possible, my 
two companions could not be persuaded to go on, nor the writer to 
turn back — his mission still unaccomplished. This left but one 
alternative — 


The increasing depth of snow, the solitude of its forest 
wastes, the absence of all traces of a trail, utter helplessness in 
case of accident, its unavoidable fatigue and exposure, danger 
from wild animals, and possible sickness, — all of these, while 
meriting due solicitude, ought not to deter or hinder him from 
treading the path of dut3^ Certainly no man, worthy of so 
honored an appellation, would for a moment hesitate at such a 
crisis, where the safety of an entire family depended upon his 
present movements. No. He must do the best that became his 
manhood, and leave its results to the one higher Power. While 
he could not blame the others, who were without the pale of such 
responsibilities, for returning, he must press on to the goal desired. 

Packs were therefore readjusted; about fifteen days' rations 
secured; blankets, overcoat, ax, and other sundries tied snugly 
up; and, after a cheery good-bye to my companions, I started out 
—alone. There is still a pleasant memory treasured of their 
kindly and long-lingering farewell look, when passing out of sight 
— and, as they thought, forever. For several hours after departure 
from my companions, a feeling of extreme loneliness and isolation 
crept over me, so that the sight and voice of a chattering tree- 
squirrel was a real relief; but this soon passed away. The most 
trying test of endurance was from the constantly breaking crust 
of frozen snow, that grew deeper at almost every step, and 
dropped me suddenly down among bushes from which I had again 
to climb with fatiguing effort, while realizing the uncertain tenure 
of my foothold after the surface had been gained ; thus demoraliz- 
ing one's clothing and incising his flesh, while taxing both strength 
and patience to get out again. 



In this manner six w^earying days were passed, not walking 
naerelyin or over snow, but wallowing throngli it, and only aver- 
aging about one nule of actual distance per day. At night I 
slept where any friendly rock or tree otferel its reviving shelter. 
Just as darkness was about to lower down its sable cui'tain, there 
Ijeing no place of rest or refuge visible in all that snowy waste, 
and excessive fatigue had seemingly made further progi'ess impos- 
sible, I dropped my pack (now grown very heavy) and sat upon 
it, to write a few loving words to the dear ones at home — possibly 
the last — before the fast deepening twilight, and increasing chilli- 
ness, had forever banished the opportunity; thinking, also, that 
when the melting snows of spring had fed the rills, some kindly 
feet would perhaps wander in search of or for whatever remained 
of the lonely traveler, and thus find the memoranda. The entry 
finished, upon looking up I saw that the clouds which had ])re- 
viously draped the forest and the mountain, so that the limit of 
vision was only a few yards oft", had lifted and drifted among the 
tree-tops, so that from my resting-place I could look down some 
three thousand feet upon the river, where to my ineft'able joy I 
could see green grasses growing, and flowers blooming — and no 
more snow! It was 


Tired ? Oh ! dear no I Before this strength-giving sight, it seemed 
utterly impossible to advance another quarter of a mile, even 
to save one's life. But, now, the pack was again shouldered, 
and, " like a giant refreshed with wine," long and rapid strides 
were made down the mountain ridge, to the promised land, which 
was reached about an hour after dark. Out of the snow, the 
muscle-testing, patience-trying snow! I thanked God with a 
grateful heart. I have often thought since, that the most gifted 
of singers could never make the song of "The Beautiful. Beauti- 
ful Snow " attractive to me. Even when sweetly sleeping that 
night, beneath the protecting arms of an out-spreading live-oak 


tree I forgot all my troubles, but one — the snow, the snow, the 
unfeeling, the never -yielding, the ever-bullying snow. For months 
afterwards, in my dreams, it was a ghost-shadow, in white — a 
ghost that would not be "laid" — and was always present. 

Awaking on the morrow my gladdened eyes at first looked, 
doubtingly, on these new surroundings; but, when thoroughly 
satisfied they were not the creations of an exuberant fanc}', a 
spring of unalloyed, full-hearted, grateful joy began to w<^ll up 
withiji me, and one that has evcjr since kept flowing, whenever 
memory has brought those circumstances back again into review. 


The frowning face of a lofty bluft', not far above my encamp- 
ment, became suggestive of possible trouble in ascending the river, 
without crossing to the opposite side. This must be ascertained. 
Taking precautionary measures for insuring the saTety of my 
limited supply o!" provisions, by tying them to the limb of a tree 
and allowing it to revert upwards, with ax in hand I started. 
Fears were soon verified by facts. There were but two alterna- 
tives left me: the northern bank of the foaming and angry river 
must be reached, or the snowy wastes abo^'e again sought. I had 
surely seen enough of the latter, and would therefore choose the 
ft)rmer. A tall tree was selected for Telling, and the ax applied; 
but such was the exacting tax upon physical strength for the last 
six da^'s, that but a very small chip was returned for each stroke. 
Still, it was a chip ; and, if I did not succumb to discouragement, 
every blow must idtimately tell, and compel the tree to fall, and 
form a bridge for my deliverance. About noon exhaustion 
compelled a short respite from labor, the soothing and renewing 
influences of refreshing sleep, and the replenishment of the inner 
man. On the way to my supplies, to my astonishment and 
momentary discomfiture, in the distance I saw a large animal 
of some kind, and that, too, beneath the very tree in AAdiich my 
limited stock of provisions was stored. A nearer approach dis- 
closed the unwelcome presence of 



Candid confession must be made that this discovery was not 
a little startling at first, especially as my only weapons were an 
ax, and two limber limbs with which to run away, had I been in 
condition. What should I do? What could I do, but stand in 
safety behind a rock, and watch his movements? My usual sel - 
possession soon returning, this could have been done with con- 
siderable interest and amusement, but for an anxious consideration 
for the safety of my supplies, to me invaluable under present 
circumstances. Bruin's grotesque and ludicrous antics, in his 
efforts to clutch them, for the moment absorbed all sense of dan- 
ger, to either myself or my food, by their diverting clumsiness. 

Now he would sit upon his haunches, apparently ruminating 
upon some plan that should successfully put him in possession of 
that which his keen sense of hunger scented from afar. Then he 
would rise upon his feet, and, by a side lunge, attempt to catch 
hold of a bough with his fore paw; simultaneously throwing the 
weight of his huge body upon the opposite hind foot, as though 
by this he hoped to stretch himself to the required length, to secure 
the much-coveted prize — but missed it every time. Unlike a pas- 
senger once seated at the dinner-table of a Mississippi steamboat, 
who, being curtly and surlily asked, by his fellow-passenger, " Can 
you reach that butter ? " immediately stretched out his arm, as 
though about to comply, when he withdrew it, without passing 
the article in question, and answered, stutteringly, "Ye-ye-yes, 
I c-c-can j-j-just r-r-reach it!" There was this difference, then, 
between the gentleman and the butter, and the grizzly with the 
pack — one could reach it, and the other could not. 

Finding his efforts still unrewarded, and the smell alone 
possibly being altogether too unsatisfying, he began to cast wistful 
glances at the trunk of the tree, and along its branches, as though 
cogitating upon the possibility of securing the coveted treasure 
by climbing the tree. Douljt evidently had changed to hope, for, 
dropping to his feet, he ran with a bound to the tree, and began 
to scramble up it. But, either his body was too heavy for its 


strength, or, there was an uncommendable lack of will-power — 
an 02easional experience in similar tonus o'i the genus homo — 
inasmuch as less than half of the height had been overcome, when 
he began to hesitate, then to back down. Fearing, however, that 
the pangs of hunger might provide bruin with sufficient intelli- 
gence to encompass their capture, and my dismay, I struck a 
rattling blow upon a large hollow log, accompanied with a loud 
shout; when, looking around towards the spot whence the noise 
proceeded, he started upon an and)ling run in the opposite 
direction, and was soon lost in the distance. It may not be neces- 
sai'y here to aver that not a single arrow o ' sori-ow pierced my 
heart at his abru])t departure. 

After rest and refreshment, the attack was renewed upon the 
tree; and, about three o'clock that alternoon, it began to give 
premonitions of a downfall. As Mungo Park once said, when 
suffering with thirst upon the deserts of Africa, and heard the 
croaking of frogs, knowing that the sound was indicative of 
water being near, with gladness exclaimed, "It was heavenly 
music to my ears;" so was the cracking of that tree to me. 
Luckily it fell just right, and reached the other side. Creeping 
across it — I was too weak to walk it — I discovered signs of a 
dim and almost unused trail, passing up the northern bank of the 
river. This augured successful progress in the right direction. 

Returning to camp, a fresh supply of bread was made up, 
and baked upon hot rocks in front of the fire, or upon dried sticks; 
and on the following day my journey was renewed. For three 
days I threaded my way among bowlders, creeping under or 
over, or lowering myself between them, or worked it through 
underbrush; but as there was no snow to encounter, and the 
close of each day showed encouraging progress, every indication 
was in favor of a hopeful y?;?^(/e. On the night of the third day 
in the river canon, and the tenth of my lonely pilgrimage, I suc- 
cessfully gained the object of my earnest yearnings, and undis- 
couraged efforts. I had reached the Valley, and, with sympatlietic 
Cowper, felt: — 


"0 scenes surpassing fable, iind yet true 
Scenes of accomplished bliss; wliich win can see, 
Though but in distant prospect, and not feel 
His soul refresh'd with foretaste of the joy." 

Especially after such experiences. Onee here, and out of the 
unknown region wherein I had been a wanderer, every water-fall 
and mountain peak were dearly "familiar to me as household 
words." My heart seemed to leap with very ]oy. In spirit I 
metaphorically embraced them as well-known fiiends. Believe 
me, there was real felicity enjoyed at such a moment, for 1 was 
truly happy. And 

'When the shore is won at last, 
Who will count the billows past?" 

A grateful addition to my gladness of heart at reaching the 
desired goal was the discovery that snow did not any 
insuperable obstacles to a safe residence in the grand old valley 
during winter — and that Dame Rumor, as usual, was in error. 
It is true there were numeious patches of snow, several feet in 
depth, hidden away in shady places; but nearly the entire surface 
of the valley was found to be free from it. This, the sole object 
of my eventful journey, being demonstrated beyond preadventure, 
after a brief rest, I left the valley on the eleventh day, and, aliout 
noon of the day following, arrived at a little quartz-mill, far 
down in the canon of the Merced, wdiere I once more looked upon 
a human face. I will leave others to guess, for they cannot fully 
realize, how delightfully welcome was that sight to me. If any 
one entertains a doubt of this, let him pass eleven days, alone, 
without it; 

Upon the return of my companions to the settlements without 
me, and the story being told of my having started on through the 
deep snow, alone, there were gloomy forebodings expressed oi my 
never again being seen, alive. Colonel Fine carefully treasured 
the note of thanks I had sent him for the use of his donkey, think- 
ing to forward it to my friends, as possibh' the last souvenir from 
me I In this they were foi-tunately disappointed 



Variety's the very spice of life, 
That gives it all its flavor. 

— Cowpek's Ta-ik, Book IJ. 

To-daj' is not yesterday; we ourselves change; how can onr works and 
thoughts, if tliey are always to be fittest, continue always the same? 

— Carlyle's Essays. 
There comes to me out of the Past 
A voice, whose tones are sweet and wild. 
Singing a song almost divine, 
And with a tear in every line. 

— Longfellow. 

After the experiences narrated in the preceding chapter, a 
second visit was paid Yo Semite in the ensuing summer, for the 
purpose of a thorough examination of the valley, with reference to 
a suitable location for our proposed new home. The choice fell 
upon the site since generally known as " Hutchings' ;" and negotia- 
tions were commenced for purchasing the possessoiy right of two 
preemption claims, of IGO acres each, out of which to establish 
one deemed the most desirable. Owing to sundry delays, from 
various causes, these were not consummated, and the improvements 
thereon acquired, until the spring of 1864, when terms were satis- 
factorily agreed upon ; and we set out, with all our household and 
other wares, arriving, and taking possession, April i20th of that 
year — 1864. 


At that time all our furniture, stores, tools, and other articles, 
had to be cari'ied fifty miles on the backs of mules and horses. 
The ])a('k-tvain was not only the connecting link between comfort 

and privation, but the interposing medium between plentv and star- 




vation ; consequently packing, 
from its necessities, was ele- 
vated into a science, the pro- 
fessors and experts of which 
were Mexican muleteers. 
The equal balancing of the 
pack, and the skillful fasten- 
ing of it upon the animal, 
required knowledge, as well 
as practice and care. It 
was a serious matter to have 
a pack become loose, or one- 
sided, as this called not only 



for its re-adjustment, 
but, frequently, for re- 
packing. Then the de- 
lay thus caused brought 
other trouble, inasmuch 


as while this was being 
cai-ed for, the remaining ani- 
mals of the train were loiter- 
ing; when others would lie 
down to rest; and, either 
by an attempt to roll over, 
or in the effort to get up, so 
disarrange their load as to 
necessitate a repetition of the 



service. This often became quite a severe tax upon the packer's 



patience (time was seldom an object of consideration with repre- 
sentatives of this race in California), seldom an over-abundant 
article in the possession of a Mexican — and, it might be added, 

witli ])eople of other nationalities besides. 
Its lack too frequently developed excesses 
in temper, attended frequently with much 
1 )rutality ; and this very naturally reacted 
u])on the annual's resentment of a'wrong; 
and, possibly, gave rise to the expression, 
"stubl)orn as a mule." 


There is something very pleasing and 
picturesque in the sight of a large pack- 
train quietly ascending or descending a hill, as each animal care- 
fully examines the trail, and moves cautiously, step by step, 
especially on a steep and dangerous declivity, as though he sus- 




pected danger to himself, or injury to his pack. This is par- 
ticularly noticeable on passing down a steep snow Ijank, when 
heavily packed; for, as they cannot step forward safely, they 
so dispose their feet, ?,nd brace their limbs, that they can, and 
<lo, unhesitatingly slide down it with their k)ad, in perfect safety. 
I have seen a train of fifty do this. In some of the more remote 
settlements, the arrival of the pack-train was an event of im- 
portance only secondary to that of the expressman, or the mail- 
carrier; and its unpacking watched with as much eager interest 
as though it was expected that some old-time friend would t-merge 
from between the packs. 

p:xokm()US weights fackki) by mules. 

The avei'age ■SA'eights carried would genei'ally I'angt' within 
two hundred and three hundivd pounds; although, in some 
instances, they have been far in excess of this. When the Yrelca 
Heiahl was about to commence publication, in 1852, a press was 
purchased in San Francisco at a cost of SCdO, ujion which the 
freight alone an ounted to IfDCO. The "bed-piece " weighed three 
hundred and ninety-seven pounds, and, with the ajiarajoes, ropes, 
etc., exceeded four hundred and thirty pounds, which was the 
actual weight of the load. Cn descending Scott Mountain, the 
splendid animal carrying this load slipped a little, when the papk, 
over-balancing, threw the mule down a steep bank, and killed it 
instantly. In the fall of 18.38 an ii'on safe, nearly tliree feet 
sc^uare, and weighing three hundred and fifty-two pounds, was 
conveyed on a very large mule, from Shasta to Weaverville, a 
distance of thirty -eight miles, and over a rough and mountainous 
trail, without an accident; but, after the load was taken oW, the 
mule lay down, and died in a few hours. A reliable gentlen:an 
inforii;ed m.e that in 1855 tAvosetsof millstones Avere packed fre)m 
Shasta to Weaverville, the largest weighing six hundred jiounds. 
Deeming it an impossibility for one mule to carry either, it was 
tried to "sling" one mill -stone between two animals: but that, 
proving impracticable, the plan was abandoned, and it was after- 
wards packed, safely, upon one ! 



Mexican mules were considered the most desirable, from their 
being accustomed to that work ; and, having been less tenderly 
reared than the American, were less liable to disease. The Mexi- 
can mules, moreover, are credited with being tougher and stronger 
than the American ; and can travel farther without food than any 
other quadruped. It is assumed also that this class of animals 
can carry a person forty miles per day, for ten or twelve consecu- 
tive days, and over a mountainous country ; while it is difficult 
for an American mule to accomplish over twenty-five or thirty 
miles per day. Be this as it may, the Mexican prefers the mule 
of his own country to that of ours, because he considers the latter 
altogether too delicate for his use. There is another reason — and 
a very eifective one with a Mexican — they can always be kept 
fat with little care, and less to eat, and that at irregular intervals; 
while the American mule, to do about half the amount of work, 
requires good food, regularly given, and to be otherwise M^ell 
cared for. They seldom drink more than once on the warmest of 
days, unless their efforts are very exacting and prolonged. The 
average life of a mule is given at sixteen years; although Cali- 
fornia muleteers used to assert that "a male never dies, but 
simply dries up." 


One used to be astonished at the singular variety of articles 
moving along on the backs of animals, such as buggies, windows, 
cart-wheels, wagon-sides, boxes, barrels, bars of iron, tables, chairs, 
bedsteads, plows, and mining tools; and not always with the 
greatest of safety. Once a rocking-chair and large looking-glass 
were sent us, but, when they reached their destination, the chair 
was broken into pieces, and the looking-glass resembled a crate of 
smashed crockery. On the second trip of our packer to Yo Semite, 
the entire train, frightened at some sight by the way, " stam- 
peded;" when books and jellies, pictures and pickles, and other 
sundries, w^ere all indiscriminatel}^ mixed together, or scattered in 
all sorts of places, by the roadside. 



The Mexicans almost invariably blindfold each mule before 
attempting to pack it; after which he stands perfectly quiet, 
until the bandage is removed, no matter how unruly his behavior 


was before. A tnulatero generally rides in front of the train 
for the purpose of stopping it, when anything goes wixmg, and 
becomes a guide to the others ; although in every band of horses 
or mules, there is always a leader, generally known as the "bell 


mule," or horse — and it is not a little singular that nearly all 
mules prefer a white horse for that purpose — which they unhesitat- 
ingly follow the moment he starts, or wherever he goes, by day 
or by night. 

When about to camp, the almost invariable custom of packers, 
after removing the goods (by which they always sleep in all kinds 
of weather), is for the mules to stand side by side, in a line or 
hollow square, with their heads in one direction, and each one in 
his customary place, before taking off the aparajoei^;* and, in the 
morning, when the train of loose mules is driven up from pasture, 
to receive their packs, every one walks up to his own aparajoe 
and blanket, with the precision of well-drilled soldiers, and rarely 
makes a mistake. 

Notwithstanding the Mexican packer's seeming nonchalance, 
it is almost incredible the amount of danger and privation they 
uncomplainingly undergo, when exposed to the elements. This 
can be more clearly apprehended when the fact is presented that, 
during one severe winter, there was 


Between Grass Valley, Nevada County, and Onion Valley, Sierra 
County, when, out of forty-eight animals, only three were taken 
out alive. Thij packers, unable to get firewood, narrowly escaped 
perishing, from being frozen to death. Their sufferings were inde- 
scribable; yet, when safely out of it, they only laughed at their 
experiences. On one occasion our pack-train was several hours 
belated; and, as snow had been falling in heavy flakes all the 
afternoon, every passing minute only increased our weight of 
anxiety for its safety. There was no use in further delay ; for it 
must be sought after, and helped, if help was needed. Throwing 
the saddle across my horse, and taking some well-lined saddle- 
bags, I sallied out upon the storm. The animal's spirited move- 
ments proved her to be in perfect sympathy with the occasion, as 

*An aparajoe is a kind of pack-saddle, or flattish pad, the covering of which 
is generally made of leather, and stuffed with hair. As they are considered safer 
and easier for the animrd than tlie ordinary p ,ck-saddle, they are always preferred 
by Mexicans, although their weight is from twenty-five to forty pounds. 



though it was intuitively understood and appreciated. As deeper 
grew the snow, the stronger came the effort to overcome and con- 
quer it, and that too with a conscious pride which seemed to rise 
in proportion to the difficulties to he surmounted. Those who 


could abuse such invahiable and noble servants ought never to 
have the privilege of owning or of using one. 

On, on, we dashed, through the almost blindmg snow, ant\ 
just before dusk, in the near distance, broke the welcome sight of 
the heavily-laden pack-train. With it was the anxious Mexican, 
earnestly engaged in the attempt to release a load from a fallens 
mule, whose foot had found a hole in the trail. When he saw me, 
his somber face became aglow with pleasure, and his tongue spon- 
taneously found musical utterances of joy. As soon as the mule 
was set free, we both tried the possible good that might come from 
a good drink of aguardiente; and then, although the Mexican's 
hands were numb, and his limbs nearly stiff with cold, the pack 



was cheerily replaced, and we started on for home and shelter. 
Human help and brandy arrived just in time to save both man 
and beast. The most rabid advocate of "total abstinence," 
whose reason had not been dethroned, would, I think, concede 
the advantageous use of stimulants, at such a time, if only as 
a medicine. At least let us hope so, if only to accord to him 
the credit of possessing- ordinar}' common sense. 


Upon relating the incident to the late Mr, Charles Nahl, 
who was unquestionably the best draftsman of animals upon the 
Pacific Coast, he made the accompanying sketch to illustrate it. 
At a glance it will be seen that the skill of the artist not only 
portrays the limbs of the mules in snow, but the determined 
efforts being made to get them out, in order to secure deliverance 
and safety for themselves, and riddance for their packs. 



These were found to be very limited, as they consisted of a 
two-story frame building, sixty by twenty feet, having two 
rooms, an upper and a lower. Its doors and windows were made 
of cotton cloth. Yerily, a jjrimitive beginning for novices in hotel 
keeping. When our first guests arrived (and their arrival caused 
quite a flutter in the household), the ladies were domiciled up- 
stairs, and the gentlemen down. This arrangement we felt not 
only had its inconveniences, but was contrary to law, inasmuch 
as it sometimes separated man and wife. So novel a disposition 
of visitors, whose names, many of them at least, were already 
inscribed on the temple of fame, only became a subject for mirth- 
fulness, never of censure. They saw that we were attemping our 
best — and the very best among us could do no more — and 
accepted it accordingly. 

This, however solacing to our sensibilities, was not satisfying 
to our convictions. We determined upon changing it. But 
how? The nearest saw-mill was some fifty miles distant, and 
over a mountainous country, that was only accessible over steep 
and zigzaging trails. We knew that almost anything could be 
packed upon mules ; we had even seen our donkey trotting along 
with two wagon-sides upon him, when only the tips of his ears 
and the lower part of his limbs were visible; but how could lum- 
ber be packed fifty miles? This, therefore, was given up as 
Quixotic. Bolts of muslhi could be packed, and were; and 
rooms were accordingly made out of that. Guests, in this way, 
were thus provided with apartments, it is true ; but, unless their 
lights were carefully disposed, there were also adtled unintentional 
shadow-pictures, which, if contributory of mirthfulness in a 
maximum degree, gave only a minimum degree of privacy in 
return. Better accommodations nnist be provided, no matter at 
what cost the lumber might be procured. Two men were accord- 
ingly engaged to run a human saiv-mill. 

This method of producing lumber is generally called "pit- 
sawing." Owing to the severity of the winter, the long absence 


of sunshine, and the difficulty of obtaining logs, less than fiiteen 
hundred feet were cut that entire season. This set us to consider- 
ing how many thousand years, more or less, would roll into the 
past, Ijefore an adequate stock of timber could be sawed for mak- 
ing the improvements absolutely necessary. Questioning the 
probability of so long an extension of life's lease, the irons for a 


Were procured from San Francisco, and a man employed to con- 
struct it, who professed thoroughly to understand just how to do 
it; but, when the finishing touches were about to be added, it was 
discovered that the thing wouldn't lun at all; and, before the 
needful changes could be made, the water decreased so rapidly 
that' even the testing of its capabilities were on the outside of the 
question. Unlike a prosy politician who, while making his speech, 
paused to take a drink of water, when his opponent started to 
his feet, and thus addressed the presiding officer: "Mr. Speaker, 

I rise to a point of order." " The member from will please to 

state his point of order." " My point of order is this, Mr. Speaker : 

Is it in order for the member from to attempt to run his 

wind-mill by water?" Whether that point of order was sustained 
or not (the fact being unrecorded), we knew that we had made a 
double discovery for ours ; for it would not run either with or 
without water, and, although in possession of a saw-mill, we were 
as far off as ever from a supply of lumber. 

When the richly colored leaves of autumn were being picked 
off rapidly by the nightly freezing fingers of the frosty air, and 
the wind in frolicsome gustiness had begun to drop them sportively 
on shady pools, or in running streams, or to pile them playfully 
in eddies, and hide them cautiously in sequestered corners, busi- 
ness in Yo Semite had become as quiet and subdued as nature is 
after a storm — 

" And only soft airs aucl sweet odors arise, 

Like the evening incense that soars to the skies'' — 

And this suggested the present as a propitious season for renew- 


ing oui' attempts at improvements. In this mood the saw-mill 
was revisited, and its possibilities reconsidered. An inexperienced 
examination revealed a serious error in its construction, inasmuch 
as the water, when the gate was lifted, rushed to the axle, instead 
of to the outer edge of the buckets in the driving wheel, and inun- 
dated it. No wheel could work under such conditions. It 
be ciianged ; but how ? when ? and by whom ? My knowledge of 
mechanics was about as limited as that on hotel keeping. There 
was one comforting reflection stepped in to my assistance, — it was 
of no earthly use as it stood, therefore, its loss, should it 1 je utterly 
spoiled, would only be nominal. I would try to correct the error 
so .strikingly manifest. Tools were therefore brought, and the 
apparently desirable change made. 


Fortunately a heavy rain came, opportunely, to enable me 
to make a testing experiment. Timidly and cautiously lifting 
the gate, a little water Avas admitted to the Avheel. It turned 
briskly round. An additional quantity promptly increased its 
speed. With jo}', although alone, I shouted, " Eureka! " Lumber 
might yet be obtained from it. Carefully setting and filing the 
mill-saw — my first attempt — a small log was fastened in its place, 
and the mill started. To my joyful surprise the cut was com- 
pleted to the end without stopping. Again the word " Eureka " 
was on my lips, but was arrested by the thought — " Is it straight, 
and true? " It was. At this twofold success a boisterous shout of 
exultation at once relieved my joyous feelings. One cut con- 
tinued to be successfully made after another ; so that when the 
day closed, there was one-fourth as much lumber sawed, single- 
handed, as the two men had made in a Avhole winter 1 Day by 
day the quantity produced increased so encouragingly that we 
felt justified in employing a good practical sawyer, and with 
him a couple of carpenters, so that the much-needed improve- 
ments could be commenced Avith satisfactory earnestness, and 
presumptive hope of ultimate and early realization. It was a 
"one-horse " saw-mill tliat opened to us the gold disco-veiy. 



The ring of the hammer and soft rasping sound of the saw 
now added their music to that of the water-fall and singing pines, 
and cloth partitions soon became numbered among the make-shifts 
of the past. The old house was rejuvenated by porches, and 
made convenient by lean-to's, in which were kitchen, store, and 
sitting-room^now known as " The Big Tree Room ;" about which, 
and its associations and stories, more will be said hereafter. 
Buildings, made necessary by the rapidly increasing throng of 
tourists, began to spring up as though by magic, and no sooner 
W' as one completed and occupied than another was required. The 
return home of one party of visitors, mentally full to overflowing 
with praises concerning the wonderful sights they had seen, super- 
induced others to seek similar delights. As illustrative and 
demonstrative of this, the following carefully prepared table is 
herewith submitted, of 


From 1855 to 1864, a period of nine years, the aggregate 

number of visitors to the valley was 653. 

In 1864 147 

In 1865 it increased to 369 

In 1866 it increased to 438 

In 1867 it increased to 502 

In 1868 it increased to 623 

In 1869 (the year the overland railroad was completed) it increased to. ... 1,122 

In 1870 it increased to 1,735 

In 1871 it increased to 2,137 

In 1872 it increased to 2,354 

In 1873 it increased to 2,530 

In 1874 it increased to 2,711 

In 1875 it decreased to 2,423 

In 1876 it decreased to- 1,917 

In 1877 it decreased to 1,392 

In 1878 it decreased to 1, 183 

In 1879 it increased to 1 ,385 

In 1880 it increased to 1,897 

In 1 881 it increased to 2, 1 73 

In 1882 it increased to 2,525 

In 1883 it increased to 2,831 

In 1884 it decreased to 2,408 

In 1885 it increased to 2,590 

In 1886 it increased to over 4,000 

By this it will be seen that previous to our advent there, for 



permanent residence, in 18G4, the full complement of visitors, as 
compiled from the registers of that period, was 653. Those 
unregistered would probably swell the number to about seven 
hundred — in nine years. It is also interesting to note that the 
total number for 1864 was 147 ; and this included every man, 
woman, and child that entered it, of whatsoever color or condition. 


The table here presented will also show the steady increase 
in numbers from year to year, as a knowledge of its marvelous 
grandeur was disseminated by returning visitors, by newspaper 
and book eulogiums, by photographs and paintings, and by 
lectures. Nor will justice to the earnest first workers in this 
deeply interesting field, both in literature and art, permit me to 
omit such names as Horace Greeley, Samuel B. Bowles, Albert D. 
Richardson, Charles L. Brace, Prof. J. D. Whitney, Dr. W. A. 
Scott, Rev. Thos. Starr King, and a host of others, whose books, 
newspaper articles, and lectures, contributed so largely to extend 
the fame of the great Valley : Or of C. L. Weed, its pioneer photog- 
rapher, and C. E. W^atkins, who had no superior in photographic 
art, and whose excellent prints ha^'e found their way to e\'ery 
corner of civilization. And, though last, by no means least, 
must be mentioned such eminent artists as A. Bierstadt, Thos, 
Hill, William Keith, Thos. Moran, P. Munger, A. Hertzog, and 
many more whose paintings have so much contributed to the 
public appreciation of its sublime scenic wonders. In subsequent 
times, and additional to the above, should be included the suc- 
cessful labors of Benj. F. Taylor, Helen Hunt (Jackson), Mary E. 
Blake, and a multitude of other writers: Thos. Houseworth, Geo. 
Fiske, Taber, J. J. Reilly, S. C. Walker, G. Fagersteen, and other 
photographers: C. D. Robinson, R. D. Yelland, Holdridge, and other 
artists — and all worthy helpers in advancing its renown. 


At the commencement of this encouraging influx of tourists, 
our utmost accommodations, primitive as they were, were limited 


to enough for twenty-eight. On one occasion, when every room 
was occupied, and just as all were about retiring for the night, 
the muffled tread of horses, mingled with the sound of human 
voices, was heard upon the outside. To our dismay we learned 
that a party of eleven had just arrived! What could be done, 
when every sleeping-place already had its occupant? Dumb- 
founded with surpi'ised regret, the situation was explained to the 
new arrivals. 

" Cannot take care of us, did you say?" 

" That is really the case, as every bed we have has now a 

'■ But, what can we do, Mr. H. ? We are all tired out — 
especially the ladies — and there is no other place where we can 
go?" (at that time ours was the only inn at Yo Semite.) 

" Such an inquiry I know is very pertinent at such a time. 
Well, come in, and we will do the best yve can to make you com- 
fortable. Impossibilities must be made possible under such cir- 

"Thank you — and God bless you." 

These glad tidings were soon communicated -with an exult- 
ant shout to those outside, and "three cheers" from the tired 
travelers rung out upon the siltmt midnight air, sufficiently loud 
to awaken the now surprised sleepers. Fortunately a bale of new 
California blankets had been received but a few days before, and 
with these we improvised both beds, and covering. Provisions 
were abundant. 

While supper was progressing with commendable zeal, and 
apparent satisfaction, new sounds seemed to be floating on the 
darkness, and the astounding revelation came with them of the 
arrival of eight others! Good Heavens! why India-rubber con- 
trivances would be inadequate for such emergencies. Any num- 
ber of queries at best, however, would prove but indifferent sub- 
stitutes for bedding and food. These, too, must be cared for, in 
some way. And they were. The antiquated proverb, " It never 
rains but it pours," now became strikingly illustrated; for, before 


morning- dawned, other arrivals had increased the number of 
guests to fifty-seven ! twenty-eight, be it remembered, being the 
maximum limit in accommodation. The most remarkable feature 
of this then unparalleled advent of visitors remains to be told : 
Twenty-seven departures occurred one morning, nineteen the fol- 
lowing, the next day every one of the remainder left us, and but 
live persons, altogether, arrived at Yo Semite in thirty-one days 
thereafter! Such experiences are by no means proportionally 
infrequent in hotel life here, even at this present day. 

As time gently lifted its misty veil new revelations of majesty 
and beauty were almost constantly being added to the already 
comprehensive galaxy of wonderful sights, and the necessities of 
the hour called for the surveying and constructing of horse-paths 
to these newly discovered scenic standpoints. Bridges were built, 
and wagon-roads made passable on the floor of the valley, to sub- 
serve the convenience of those who were unable to enjoy the 
exhilerating exercise of horse-back riding. This progressive 
development, moreover, was, at that day, accomplished entirely 
by private enterprise. 

In due season new hotels sprung up into existence; and, in 
addition to "the butcher and baker, and the candlestick maker," 
came the store, the blacksndth's shop, laundry, bath and billiard 
rooms, cabinet shop for Yo Semite-grown woods, and other con- 
veniences needed by the incoming visitor. 

As the history of Yo Semite, for nearly a quarter of a cent- 
ury, has been so closely interwoven with the filaments and threads 
of one's own life, it makes it difficult to di-aw the line of demark- 
ation between that which should be introduced, and such as 
ought to be ommitted. In this, as in several other matters, I hope 
to bespeak the reader's discriminating sympathy and kindly for- 
bearance should any desirable facts be unrecorded, or undesirable 
ones find a place. 



You must come home with me and be my guest; 
You wilt give joy to me, and 1 will do 
All that is ill my power to honor you. 

— Shelley's Hymn to Mercury. 
No little room so warm and bright, 
Wherein to read, wherein to write. 

— Tennyson. 

The glorious Angel, who was keeping 
The gates of light, beheld her weeping; 
And, as he nearer drew and listen 'd 
To her sad song, a tear-drop glisten 'd 
Within his eyelids, like the spray 
From Eden's fountain, where it lies 
On the blue flow'r, which — Bramins say — 
Blooms nowhere but in Paradise. 

— Moore's Lalla. Rookii — Paradise and the Peri. 

There are probably not many persons, even when philosophic- 
ally predisposed, who can fully comprehend the possibility of 
comfort and contentment in such an isolated locality as Yo Sem- 
ite, for a home in winter as well as in summer, unless in unison 
with the sentiments of Euripides, that, 

"Not mine 
This saying, but the sentence of the sage 
' Notliing is stronger than necessity. ' " 

But if to this be added a suggestive stanza from Mary Howitt: 

"In the poor man's garden grow. 

Far more than herbs and flowers, 
Kind thoughts, contentment, peace of mind. 

And joy for weary hours," 

There may be disclosed the soothing sedative of resignation to 

tolerate and endure it. Still, to the many, every moment of 

such a life would bring its burden of irksomeness, and perhaps of 



absolute repugnance, if only from its apparently unrelieved 
raonotonousness. So much, however, are we dependent, not only 
upon ourselves, but upon each other, for mutual assistance and 
happmess at such a time, that we can either make or mar its 
pleasures, as we may elect. Isolation does not necessarily foster 
loneliness or inquietude, only as our own waywardness or neglect 
may lead to these. The principal objection to such a life is in its 

utter helplessness in times of 
sickness and danger, or of 
death, especially when — as in 
our experience — our nearest 
neighbor was thirty miles 
away, and b'^yond mountains 
that were impassable. 

After satisfactory demon- 
stration that a residence at 
Yo Semite in winter was pos- 
sible, as narrated in a preced- 
ing chapter, Mr. Jas. C. 
Lamon, who formed one of 
our setting-out party on that 
occasion, was the first to try 
the experiment, and spent the 
winters of 1862-G3 and 1803 
-64 there entirely alone. As 
Mr. Lamon was long and 
favorably known by visitors, 
not only for his uniform kindness and many manly virtues, but 
as one of the early settlers in Yo Semite, I feel that this work 
would be incomplete without his portrait and a brief biographical, 

Mr. James C. Lamon was born in the State of Virginia in 
1817. In 1835 he emio-rated to Illinois; and from there to Texas, 
in 1839. In 1851 he arrived in California, and located in Mari- 
posa County, where, in connection with David Clark, he engaged 




in the saw-mill and lumber business, until 1858. In June, 1859, 
he arrived in Yo Semite, and assisted in building the upper hotel, 
since known as the Hutchings House. In the fall of that year 
he located a pre-emption claim at the upper end of the valley; 
cultivated it for garden purposes, planted a fine orchard, and 



By his indomitable will, assisted by his general intelligence 
and unflagging industry, to which were united habits of temper- 
ance and frugality, and the denial to himself of many comforts, 
ho caused the spot known as Lamon's Garden, once a wilderness, 
"to blossom as the rose," and "Lamon's Berry Patch" and 
orchard, to become synonymous with enjoyment; the memory of a 
visit to which was pleasurably treasured by tourists, throughout 
the civilized world. 


As the lofty mountains siuTounding his cabin and garden 
threw long and chilling shadow-frowns upon him during winter, 
he erected a small house on the sunny side of the valley ; and, as 
a precaution against Indian treachery, lived in its basement. 
This, however, being flooded during a heavy and continuous rain, 
he aftQrwards built a commodious log-cabin, that, upon emer- 
gency, might be to him both a fortress and a home. The 
land around it he fenced and cultivated; and it now — under 
the vigilant care of Mr. A. Harris— presents a picture of pastoral 
loveliness which is in striking contrast to that outside of it. 


Notwithstanding these valuable and attractive additions to 
the enjoyments oi" the valley, the Board of Yo Semite Commis- 
sioners declined in every way to recognize his rights as a honcu 
fide settler, and he — with the writer — was notified that he must 
take a lease of all his premises from them, on or before a given 
time, or leave. As neither of us would accept either of these 
alternatives, there ensued the conflict briefly outlined in the suc- 
ceeding chapter, which resulted, finally, in the State's recog- 
nizing at least the equities of our claims, and the payment to Mr. 
Lamon, in 1874, of $12,000 as compensation therefor. 


This modest sum, the fruits of fifteen years' laborious toil, 
although so much calculated to smooth the pathway of his declin- 
ing years, by lifting him above financial care, was, in its enjoy- 
ment, of very brief duration; for, just as he had begun to realize 
the full fruition of its blessedness, death came with 

" That golden key 
That opes the palace of eternity," 

May 22, 1875, at the age of 58 years. His remains are interred 
in the Yo Semite Cemetery, near Yo Semite Falls, amid the scenes 
of grandeur he loved so well ; and here a monolith of Yo Semite 
granite marks the spot where he rests. 



Incidental mention is above made of Mr. Lamon's residence 
in the Yo Semite Valley two tuinters alone, without a neighbor, 
or even a friendly dog, to keep him company.* Supplemental to 
this there is a sequel that deserves a kindly record : While thus 
passing his lonely existence there, an Indian had been seen in the 
settlements with a fine gold watch, that, it was surmised, belonged 
to Mr. Lamon. Fearing that its supposed owner had been mur- 
dered, as well as robbed, three friends left Mariposa — one of whom 
was Mr. Galen Clark, for many years the guardian of the valley, 
and still a much respected resident there — for the purpose of 
ascertaining the facts of the case. Upon arrival, to their great 
joy, they found the man, presumably murdered, busily engaged in 
preparing his evening meal. Both Mr. Lamon and his watch 
were proven to be safe. It can readily be conjectured that their 
congratulations and rejoicings must have been mutual, although 
view^ed from widely different standpoints. 


"Of all the homes that I have seen, in all my travels, this is the most delectable." 

— Canox Kixgsley. 

As the sun did not rise upon the hotel until half past one in 
the afternoon, and set again, there, at half past three ; so small a 
modicum of sunlight caused us to look out from the depressing and 
frosty shadows of our mountainous surroundings, to the bright- 
ness of the opposite side; and created within us a longing for the 
sunlight that was there bathing every tree and mountain with 
cheerfulness and joy. " Ah ! " we would all spontaneously ejacu- 
late, "that is the place to live, in winter." Even the poultry, 
that huddled together in a corner shiveringly, would look at us 
with seeming remonstrance, as though they would admonish us to 
remove them over there. 

"Besides," the ladies would exclaim, "how beautifully pict- 
uresque a log-cabin would look over yonder in the sunlight, with 

*He was never married. 


a dark rich setting of oaks around it; to say nothing of the pleas- 
ure of listening to the grandest of perpetual anthems from the 
Yo Semite Fall, just at its back; or of the homehke comfort there 
would be within and aromid it." 

A site possessing the qualities deemed most desirable was 
accordingly selected, and a " log-cabin," in all its symmetrical pro- 
portions and artistical surroundings, began to stand out upon the 
landscape. How cheerily anxious did the gentler sex watch the 
placing of each and every log, and sometimes assisted in patting 
them in position. By degrees, and with the assistance of our 
neighbor, Mr. Lamon, and his cattle, it was finished. One rock 
formed the mantel, and another the hearth-stone, of our broad and 
cheery open lire-place. Our greatest trouble was with the chim- 
ney — it would smoke. Everybody, "including his wife," is 
familiar with the adage that " a smoking chimney, and scold- 
ing , etc. [we had not the latter], are among the greatest 

trials of life." Finallj^, by means of books (for we had no practi- 
cal knowledge) we learned that "a chimney, to draw well, should 
never be less than twice the size of the throat, from the latter to 
the top, which should ahvays be above the house." This principle, 
when applied to ours, made it an eminent success. And this item 
is here introduced for the benefit of those having that dire inflic- 
tion — a smoky chimney. 

The cabin, therefore, with all its comfort-adding appoint- 
ments, became a delightful reality, and soon sheltered a happy 
and contented family, though entirely isolated from the great 
throbbing heart of the world outside. On bright days we enjoyed 
the blessed sunshine from nine in the morning until half-past 
three in the afternoon — a gratifying contrast to the other side — 
and, when the storm swooped down upon us, we listened thank- 
fully to the music of the rain upon the roof, and to the wind 
among the tree-tops, or the rushing avalanches down the mount- 
ain-sides; or watched the crystal forms of the fast- falling snow 
upon, or from, our windows ; or our busy little snow-l^rd guests 

eating their daily meal of crumbs from off the window-sill. 



It must not, however, be supposed that our daily life here 
was like that pictured hy some (In-amy Christians of the life 
hereafter — " sitting, placidly, on a cloud, and blowing a silver 
trumpet." Far from it. Every day brought its duties, in fair 
weather or in ioul. Here, too, we learned a secret, and one worth 
revealing, as it is one in which the daily happiness of all largel}' 
consists — it is that of having constant and pleasant occupation, 
for both body and mind. This will count better in results, and 
go farther, than anv number of gilded theories, for this life or 
the next. There are always to be found some kindly services to 
be rendered, or duties to be performed, not only in the family 
circle, but in the teeming world around us, if we do not allow 
ourselves to shirk them. And, believe me, the noble and con- 
scientious performance of a genercnis act, brings with it a full 
and present reward, without waiting for that expected in the 
hereafter. To tliose who have both leisure and means — and they 
nmst be poor indeed who have not some — I would say, " Know 
you not some poor child, or woman, or man, to whom you can 
carry some blessing, if only that of help and sympathy?" By so 
doing, you not only assist to make up tlieir heaven, and an 
earthly one for yourselves, but, in my judgment, much better please 
the loving (n)d, whom you profe:is to serve. If there should ever 
come a new religion, it will be founded upon humanity, as being 
more nearly akin to the beneficent and enno])ling plan of the 
Infinite One. Think of this. 

Returning from this diversion, if you could have taken a 
glimpse on the inside of our cabin on a winter's night, you wt)uld 
have seen not only a bright log fire, and clean hearth-stone, but a 
little circle of l)right faces; almost aglow with watching the 
pba.ntom forms that nnght come and go among the scintillations 
of the blazing heat; or, with busy thoughts were weaving gossa- 
mer plans of future happiness ; while nimble fingers were plying 
the needle, or knitting yarn that had been carded and spun 
from Yo Semite-grown wool, with their own hands. 


We professed to take turns at reading, aloud, from some 
mutually interesting book ; but the writer discovered that the 
recurrence came most frequently to the occupant of the large home- 
made manzanita chair. Remonstrance even only brought l>ack 
the rejomder that, as he had no sewing or knitting to do, and was 
such an excel — etc., etc., reader, it would seem most eminently 
proper that he should favor the company with another chapter ! 
Sometimes a song, at others a game of whist, or euchre, would add 
a pleasing variety t(j the entertainment. Saturday evenings were 
e.specially devoted to cards and song, as then our only neighbor, 
Mr. Lamon, would come out from his hermit-like solitude and 
grace the circle with liis presence, and cheer it with his converse; 
occasionally dining with us on Sunday afternoons. It may appear 
almost incredible to confess that, notwithstanding this constant 
round of seeming sameness and isolation, there was an utter 
absence of the feeling of loneliness. Many times the ([ueiy has 
been put, cpiestioningly, "Do you not feel such entire seclusion 
from the world oppressive?" and the response was promptly and 
conscientiously returned, " No. We should, perhaps, iF W(^ had 
time to think about it! " 

Thus our long winter evenings and stormy days, while put- 
ting us into enjoyable social communion with each other, supplied 
also the opportunity of conversing with great authors, through 
their works, of which, fortunately, we had nearly eight hundred 
volumes, collected, mainly, while publishing the old-time Califor- 
nia Ma.gazine. Our summei-s were made delightful by pleasant 
converse with the kindliest and most intelligent people upon earth, 
many of whom were eminent in letters, in science, and in art. 
Who, then, with this elevating companionship, and its many 
advantages, united with such sublime surroundings, could help 
loving the Yo Semite Valley, and being contented with it as a 
home, even though isolated from the great world outside ^ 

In after years, as residents in the valley became more nu- 
merous — and some winters since then we have had over forty, 
including children — the circle of neighbors proportionately 


extended, and our divertisements would include parties, sleigh- 
rides, and snow-shoe excursions. 


The spring succeeding the completion of the cabin, called for 
the cultivation and fencing of a garden-ground, and the planting 
of an orchard. Many of the trees for the latter were grown 
from seeds of choice apples that had been sent us, the plants from 
which were afterwards budded or grafted. In this way a thrifty 
orchard, of about one hundred and fifty trees, came into being, 
and now bears many tons, annually, of assorted fruit. 

To this, in due time, was added a large strawberry patch, 
that afterwards became famous from its productiveness and the 
quality of its fruit. Here perhaps may be given a single illustra- 
tion of the difficulties to be overcome in such a far-off corner of 
the earth. The pomological works of the day were full to over- 
flowing with praises of a certain variety of this valuable berry. 
Specimens were sent for, the price asked accompanying the order. 
When the plants arrived, owing to the mails of that day coming 
by Panama, and the necessary delays attending their delivery in 
the Valley, they were all dried up and dead. Others were ordered, 
which, upon arrival, were falling to pieces from excessive 
moisture. The mail-bag containing the next parcel, owing to its 
too close contact with the steamship's funnel, was nearly burnt 
up, and with it the new invoice of strawberry plants. As it is 
never wise to become discouraged, or to give up until you win, 
in some form, or prove such a feat to be impossible, still others 
were sent for ; and this time with success, as thirteen living plants 
rewarded our perseverance. These thirteen small rootlets cost us 
exactly $45.00. Still, what w^as that sum in comparison with 
their future value? With careful culture, these increased to 
thousands ; and many of the largest bunches produced nearly two 
hundred berries each ! In after-times, delicious strawberries could 
be gathered ad libitum; what, then, was $45.00 for such a lux- 
ury? especially when to this is added that of success. 



To connect the high ground near the hotel on the south side 
of the valley with that at the cabin on the north side, and at the 
same time make the Yo Semite Fall and other attractions acces- 
sible to visitors, a causeway was thrown up across the interven- 
ing meadow, and an avenue of elms planted on either side, that 
were grown from seed sent us by the Rev. Joseph Worcester 
of Waltham, Massachusetts. But few of these now survive, 
as, during my absence in the mountains on one occasion, some 
thoughtless young men cat them down for walking-canes, and 
carried them off. I hope when they see this, they will feel their 
cheeks warm with shame ; but- 1 would not go as far as Young, in 
his "Night Thoughts," and say, 

" Shame Imrii thy cheeks to cinders," 

As that Avould be rather too severe and heavy a penalty. 


Owing to the current of events briefly chronicled in the ensu- 
ing chapter, necessity, not choice, impelled my absence from the 
valley for a season ; inasmuch as the Board of Commissioners, of 
that time, became so much angered at my unfaltering persistency 
in resenting their claims, that they would not even lease to me the 
old premises, after all other matters had been adjusted, and the 
title to both land and improvements had legally passed into their 
hands. They evidently overlooked the fact that I was contend- 
ing for a home for my family and self, and to which Ave believed 
ourselves honorably entitled under a United States general law 
— a home made sacred, too, by many memories, and where each of 
our three children were born — and my convictions then, as now, 
were that any man who would not defend his Jiearth- stone and 
his home, to the last drop of his life-blood, when he felt that 
right was on his side — even when against "forty millions of 
people,"* and a half dozen Boards of Commissioners thrown in — 
belittled his manhood, and proved himself unworthy of the respect 

*See chapter XII. 


accorded to his race. Those very Coniniissioiirrs, if standing in 
my place, Avould (1 hope) have acted as I did. It is much to be 
regretted, however, that some of those men still live, demonstra- 
tively, for no other purpose than to perpetuate their old antagon- 
isms. I am their superior in one thing — I have learned to forgive. 
Life is too short, and too uncertain, to fritter it away in unprofit- 
able and ignoble frictions, and has a holier mission. 

By an Act of the State Legislature, at its session of 1880, 
and a subsequent decision of the Supreme Court, the old Board of 
Connnissioners was retired, and a neA\' one appointed by the 
Executive in its place, April 19, 1880. The new Board elected 
the writer "Guardian of the Valley;" and, upon my return, Mr. 
John K. Barnard, the lessee of my old premises, with considerate 
and large-hearted kindness, again placed the dear old cabin 
indefinitely at my disposal ; and through his continutid courtesy, 
it has been my fondly cherished residence ever since. 

But it is not to be supposed that so rare and supernal a 
flower as unalloyed happiness could ever germinate and bloom, in 
earthly dwellings. This would be to convert terrestrial habitations 
into celestial. Hence the angel of sorrow, and, alas! of death, 
with di'ooping or baneful wings, is frequently, though uninvitedly, 
permitted to enter human homes and hearts. It was thus with 
us. Our gifted daughter Florence — given to us during the event- 
ful first year of our residence here, and whose birth was note- 
worthy from the fact that she was the first tuhite child horn at 
Yo Setnite — was called away from us in her eighteenth year, just 
as she was blooming into w^omanhood and great prospective use- 
fulness. With agonized hearts, and, seemingly, helpless hands, 

" We watched her breathing through the night, 
Her breathing soft and low, 
As in her breast the wave of life 
Kept heaving to and fro. 

" Our very hopes belied our fears, 
Our fears our hopes belied; 
We thought her dying when she slept, 
And sleeping when she died." 


Nor was ours the only Yo Semite home thus visited at this season ; 
as Effie, the beautiful step-daughter of Mr. J. K. Barnard, 

"Passed through glory's morning gate, 
And walked in Paradise" 

Only about thirty days before. The portrayal of this dual loss and 
affliction, so feelingly presented by my late beloved and gift<'d 
wife, Augusta L., is gratefully transcribed from the San Fran- 
cisco Evening Post, for which she was special correspondent:— 

Big Tkee Eoom, Baekaed's Hotel, / 

Yo Semite Valley, Sept. 28, 1881. \" 

It has seemed that the Angel of Death had overlooked this " gorge in 
the mountains," but at length he has learned bow sweet were the flowers 
that bloom in our beautiful valley. First, he came for our lily — sweet, 
gentle, spiritual Eflie, beloved daughter of this house. For a long time 
he stood afar ofl", and sent only withering glances and baleful breath, 
under Avhich she slowly drooj^ed and faded from our sight, till her life 
passed away with the summer, for on its last day she left us for a home 
among the angels. Gifted with rare esthetic tastes and talents, which 
these grand scenes were developing and cultivating, she would doubtless 
have been i^rominent among those who shall interpret and perpetuate by 
their sketches, the poetic beauties of Yosemite. We chose her a final 
resting-place in a grove of noble oaks, where Ti.ssaac, goddess of the valley, 
keeps constant watch; and the sun's last rays, reflected from her brow, 
give each evening their parting benison upon her slumbers, while the 
singing waters of Cholock* murmur an eternal lullaby. 

As Ave were around her grave, rendering the last services, prominent 
over all, in a band of young friends singing " Safe in the Arms of Jesus," 
stood the glorious rose of this wild nature — Florence ("our Floy"), eldest 
daughter of Mr. Hutcliings, guardian of the valley. Full of exuberant, 
gushing life, she has shed far and wide its fragrance. The child of the val- 
ley, for she was the first white child born within these inclosing walls, and 
the greater part of her life spent here, her whole being was permeated 
with its influences. Nothing daunted her, nothing gave her so much 
pleasure as the occasion to help others. Generous, unselfish, her deeds of 
kindly courtesy will long be remembered by a vast number of visitors, 
who have enjoyed their benefit and been interested in her bright, originjil 
thoughts; for her mind, though unsystematic in its training, was well 

*The Yo Semite Fall. 


stoekrd with good material, and she was rapidly devi'loi)iiig into a grand 

But again the dread angel looked down, and witliout waiting to give 
warning to those who held her close to their hearts, with one fell swoop 
caught her to his breast, and bore her away; that the Lily and Eose 
might bloom side by side, in a garden where no frost can blight, no tem- 
pest uproot, and the ever-outgoing perfume of their blossoms shall enter our 
lives to purity and bless them. So we have laid her, who, only a week 
before she was called away, Avas climbing heights and scrambling through 
ravines where only eagles might be looked for, under the same oaks with 
Eflie; and the dearly loved friends in life, who there seemed to us to be so 
quietly resting together, are doubtlessly wandering hand in hand through 
fairer scenes than even these they loved and enjoyed so much. 

Oh! the questionings that come up as to the why and the wherefore. 
As an Indian woman, with a puny, sickly infant, bound in its basket, that 
has been wailing and whining all its little life of two years, unable even 
to sit or crawl, came to take a last look at the plucked Rose, I could not 
but ask myself why such an api)arently useless and burdensome e.xistence 
was allowed to go on, while the helpful, earnest, energetic life had been 
quenched. But " God knows." 

Mr. Robinson, tlie artist, from San Francisco, who, in the absence of 
a clergyman, read the solemn burial service of the Episcopal Church, as 
Mr. Hutchings had done upon the former sad occasion, read also the fol- 
lowing beautiful 


Florence Hutchings, Lorn August 23, 18G4. Died, Septem er 2(5, ISSl. Of 
a bold, fc.irless disposition, warm and generous temperament, far advanced and 
original iu thought beyond her years, with a kind word antl pleasant greeting for 
every one. Always ready to do a stlf-denying action, or an act of kindness; such 
was she who now lies cold and pallid before us. She was the first white child 
ever born in the Yosemite Vail 'y, and the same giant w alls that witnessed her birth 
shall keep watch and ward over her grave through ail time. The music of the 
great Cholock that sang in cheerfulness through her infancy and childhood, shall 
chant an eternal requiem over her early grave. Here, in her grand and lonely 
home, where almost every rock, tree, and blade of grass Avere known to her, and 
were her playthings and playfellows in childhood, and the objects of her contem- 
plation and veneration in youth, shall she lay down to her calm and peaceful 
rest. Eternal nuisic shall be hers — the winds sighing through the talPpiue trees, 
the nuirinur of the great water-falls, and the twiligiit calls of the turtle doves to 
each other from their far-off homes, the heights Tocoya;* and Law-oo-too. All 

*North, and .South Domes. 


nature unites to lull to rest and peace ;.nd (juiet the gentle dead. 80, friends, 
temper your griefs to calnuiess, with the con.-:ol;ition thf>t if the loss is yours, 
the gain is God's. 

Ahwahnee,* who could protect its first born in j'outh and life, will guard her 
with a loving mother's embrace in death. Let us leave her in resignation and 
cheerfulness, knowing that it is but a span between the hour that has called her 
from us, and the one which is to summon us also to the unknown, whence 
no one returns And as she calmly lies, with all nature whispering love and pro- 
tection over her last resting-place, let us in reverence depart, and leave her soul 
in ]oy and peace, safe in the arms of the good and great God who gave it, for so 
brief a season, to gladden her parents' hearts, and Ijloom within the world. 

Mr. B. F. Taylor, in his charmingly simny book, "Between 
the Gates," page 238, makes the following suggestion: " Let us 
give the girl, for her own and her father's sake, some graceful 
mountain height, and, let it be called ' Mt. Florencel'" This 
complimentary suggestion, through the kindness of friends, has 
been carried out; as one of the formerly unnamed peaks of the 
High Sierra now bears the name of " Mt. Florence." This is best 
seen and recognized from Glacier Point, and Sentinel Dome. 

In less than six brief weeks after our daughter Florence had 
passed through the Beautiful Gate, the unwelcome angel again 
visited the old cabin, and this time carried away the devoted and 
beloved companion of my life, my beloved and devoted wife, after 
an illness of only a few hours. Without lingering too long upon 
these chastening experiences, let me add that her endearing 
qualities may be summed up in one expressive line: — 
" Think what a wife should be, and she was that." 

The beautiful gems of art that still adorn our cabin ^^-ithin are 
nearly all the work of her own hands and skill ; and, with many 
other souvenirs, the creations of her own genius, are ever clierished 
as sacred memories, memovid in ceternd. 

When the mystic ligature of love joins human hearts, and 
the vacant cliair tells, silently, of the enforced absence of its once 
loving occupant, bringing back reminders of happy greetings ere 
you crossed the threshold, as of life's long summer's day of joy, 

*The great Indian chief of antiquity. 


to be yours with them no inore-^it is then, ah ! tken, that real 
loneliness strikes home to the heart. 

Much of this, however, has been alleviated in past years by 
the many kindnesses of visitors who have honored and brightened 
the old cabin with their cheering and refining presence; and to 
its occupant have given unalloyed pleasure by their refreshing 
converse. It has been his acceptable pastime for many years to 
gather any fragmentary curios that were representative of moun- 
tain life and circumstances ; such, for instance, as the cones and 
seeds of tlie different kinds of pine and fir, and other forest trees 
- — including those of the Big Tree with its foliage and wood ; 
specimens of our beautiful ferns, and flowers: Indian relics, with 
samples of their food; pieces of glaciei'-polished granite; snow- 
shoes (of home manufacture), for both valley use and mountain 
climbing ; and those used upon horses for sleigh-riding and haul- 
ing over the mountains, and about which more will be said here- 
after. In grateful return for the honor of a visit, he has tried 
to explain these, and given the why and the whei'ef ore concerning 
them ; and, moreover, still cherishes the hope of its indulgence for 
many years to come. 

At the west end of the cabin is a small workshop (a necessary 
appendage to an isolated life and residence), which also answers 
for a wood-shed in winter. At the back is another lean-to, which 
comprises a kitchen, pantry, and store-rooms, and at the eastern 
end a bedroom. The attic, or roof -room, is sometimes also used 
as a sleeping apartment — and once, during a heavy flood (to 
be talked over l\y and by) as a place of refuge for ourselves and 
household wares, when tlie waters were at their highest. 

A little west of north from this spot, apparently but a short 
distance off, while in reality it is nearly three-quarters of a mile 
away, the Yo Semite Fall makes a leap of over two thousand five 
hundred feet over the edge of the cliff, and in one bound clears 
fifteen hundred feet. The surging roll of the music from this fall is 
a constant and refreshing lullaby to slumber, and never wearies. 
With so many enduring charms, then, is it a wonder that one 
clings with admiring fondness to such a home? 




Think thut d ly lost whose low descending suu 
Views from thy liand no noble action done. 

— ROB.\KT. 

That action is best which procures the greatest happines.s for the greatest 


— HriTHixsoN'.s Moral Good and Evil. 

I have alwaj's thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their 


— Locke'.s Human Understanding, Book I. 

While some of the occurrences narrated in preceding chapters 
were transpiring, the Hon. John Conness, U. S. Senator for 
California, in concert with Mr. I. W. Raymond and others, con- 
ceived a plan for the cession, by Congress, of the Yo Semite Val- 
ley, and its more immeiliate surroundings, with thi' Mariposa Big 
Tree Grove, to the State of California, for the purpose of setting 
them apart, and protecting them as public parks. Mr. Conness 
accordingly introduced the following bill in the United States 
Senate, which was promptly passed by both branches of Con- 
gress : — 
An Act authorizing a grant to the State of California of the " Yo Semite 

Valley" and of the land embracing the Mariposa Big Tree Grove. 


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Cortgi-ess assembled: That there shall be, 
and i.s hereby, granted to the State of California the ^' cleft " or " gorge" 
in the granite peak of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, situated in the county 

*See United States Statutes at Large, for lSG-4, page 325. 



of Mariposa, in the State aforesaid, and the headwaters of the Merced 
River, and known as the Yo Semite Valley, with its branches or spurs, 
in estimated length fifteen miles, and in average width one mile back 
from the main edge of the precipice, on each side of the valley, with the 
stijiulation, nevertheless, that the said State shall accept this grant upon 
the express conditions that the jjremises shall be held for public use, 
resort, and recreation; shall be inalienable for all time; but leases not 
exceeding ten years may be granted for portions of said premises. All 
incomes derived from leases of privileges to be expended in the preserva- 
tion and improvement of the property, or the roads leading thereto; the 
boundaries to be established at the cost of said State by the United 
States Surveyor-General of California, whose official plat, when affirmed 
by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, shall constitute the evi- 
dence of the locus, extent, and limits of the said cleft or gorge; the 
premises to be managed by the Governor of the State with eight other 
Commissioners, to be appointed by the Executive of California, and who 
shall receive no compensation for their services. 

Sec. 2. And be it farther enacted: That there shall likewise be, and 
there is hereby, granted to the State of California the tracts embracing 
what is known as the "Mariposa Big Tree Grove," not to exceed the 
area of four sections, and to be taken in legal subdivisions of one quarter 
section each, with the like stipulation as expressed in the first section of 
this Act as to the State's acceptance, with like conditions as in the first 
section of this Act, and to be taken in legal sub-divisions as aforesaid; and 
the official plat of the United States Surveyor-General, when affirmed by 
the Commissioner of the General Land Office, to be the evidence of the 
locus of the said Mariposa Big Tree Grove. 

Approved, June 30, 1864. 

The news of this generous donation was first made known to 
the California public through the columns of the San Francisco 
Evening Bullet in of August 9, 1864, as we had no railroads or 
telegraph lines across the continent in those days. In prompt 
responsive acknowledgement on the part of the State was issued 


State of Camfoknia, Executive Department, / 

Sacramexto, September 28, 1804. J 

Whereas, The United States, by an Act passed at the first session 
of the thirty-eighth Congress, has granted to this State the territory com- 
prising the '' Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove," to be 


held aud used for the purpose mentioned in said Act; and whereas 
it is also provided in the Act that the management and control of the 
tracts of land shall be confided to a Board of Commissioners to be 
appointed by the Governor. 

Now therefore, be it known, that I, Fred'k F. Low, Governor of the 
State of California, by virtue of the authority in me vested, have 
appointed Feed. Law Olmsted, Prof. J. D. Whitney, William 


George W. Coulter, and Galen Clark, said Commissioners, to whom 
is confided the management of the aforesaid tracts of land. And I hereby 
warn and command all persons to desist from trespassing or settling upon 
said territory, and from cutting timber or doing any unlawful acts within 
the limits of said grant. 

All propositions for the improvement of the aforesaid tracts of land, 
or for leases, should be made to the Commissioners, through Fred. Law 
Olmsted, Bear Valley, IMariposa County. 

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the 
Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed, this twenty- eighth day 
of September, 1864. 


Oovernor of California. 

Attest: B. B. Eedding, Secretanj of State. 
By F. W. Redding, Deputy ^ 

During the sixteenth session of the State Legislature Avas 
enacted the following: — 


An Ad to accept the grant by the United States Government to the State 

of California of the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree 

Grove, and to organize the Board of Commissioners, and to fully 

empower them to carry out the objects of the grant and fulfill the 

purposes of the trust. {Chap. J) XXXV I of the Statutes of California 

passed at the 16th Session of the Legislature, 1865-66.) 

Wheeeas, By an Act of Congress entitled an Act authorizing a 

grant to the State of California of the Yosemite Valley, aud of tiie land 

embracing the Mariposa Big Tree Grove, apjjroved June 30, A. D., 18G4, 

there was granted to the State of California in the terms of said Act said 

Valley and the lands embracing said Grove upon certain conditions and 

stipulations therein exjjressed; now, therefore, 

The people of the State of California, represented in Senate and 
Assetnbly, do enact as follows: — 


Section 1. Tho StatL" of Calituniia does hereby accept said grant 
upon the conditions, nscrvations. and stipuhitions contained in said Act 
of Congress. 

Sec. 2. The Govenior, and the eight other Commissioners, Frederick 
Law Olmsted, Prof. J. 1). Wliitney, William Ashburner, I. W. Raymond, 
E. S. Holden, Alexander Deering, George W. Coulter, and Galen Clark, 
appointed by him on the twenty-eighth day of September, eighteen 
hundred and sixty-four, in accordance with the terms of said Act, are 
hereby constituted a Board to manage said premises, and any vacancy 
occurring therein from death, removal, or any cause, shall lie tilled by the 
appointment of the Governor. Tlicy shall be known in law as "The 
Commissioners to manage the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big 
Tree Grove," and by such name they and their successors may sue and be 
sued, and shall have full [)()wcr to manage and acbninister the grant made 
and the trust created by said Act of Congress, and shall have full power 
to make and adopt all rules, regulations, and by-laws for their own govern- 
ment, and the government, improvement, and {jreservation of said premises 
not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States or of this 
State, or of said Act making the grant, or of any law of Congress or of the 
Legislature. They shall hold their first meeting at the time and place to 
be specified l)y the Governor, and thereafter as their own rules shall pre- 
scribe, and a majority shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of 
business. They shall elect a I'resident and Secretary, and any other 
officers from their number as their rules may j^rescribe. 

Sec. 3. None of said Commissioners shall receive any comjiensation 
for their services as such. They shall have power to appoint a Guardian 
either of their number or not, of said premises, removable at their pleasure, 
to perform such duties as they jnay prescribe, and to receive such com- 
pensation as they may fix, not to exceed five hundred dollars per annum. 

Sec. 4. The Commissioners shall make a full report of the condition 
of said premises, and of their acts under this law, and of their expendi- 
tures, through the (iovernor, to the Legislature, at every regular session 

Sec. 5. The State Geologist is hereby authorized to make such further 
explorations on the said tracts and in the adjoining region of the Sierra 
Nevada Mountains as may be necessary to enable him to prepare a-full 
description and accurate statistical report of the same, and the same shall 
be published in connection with rejiorts of the Geological Survey. 

Sec. 6. It shall be unlawful for any person willfully to commit any 
trespass whatever upon said premises, cut down or carry off any wood, 
underwood, tree, or timber, or girdle or otherwise injure any tree or tim- 
ber, or deface or injure any natural object, or set fire to any wood or grass 


upon said premises, or destroy or injure any bridge or structure of any 
kind, or other improvement that is or may be placed thereon. Any per- 
son committing either or any of said acts, without the express permission 
of said Commissioners through said Guardian, shall be guilty of a mis- 
demeanor, and on conviction thereof shall be punished byline not exceed- 
ing five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail not 
exceeding six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. 

Sec. 8. This Act shall take effect immediately. 

Approved April 2, 1866. 


This liberal and conservative concert of action between Con- 
gress and the State of California, was doubtlessly made with the 
implied understanding that no private rights were in any way 
invaded or jeoparded thereby. In this, however, subsequent pro- 
ceedings proved that both the contracting parties were in error; 
inasmuch as the Board of Commissioners, created by the foregoing 
acts, notified Mr. J. C. Lam on and myself — the only honafide set- 
tlers — that we must take a lease of the premises occupied by us 
from them, on or before a given time ; or, failing to do this, the}^ 
would lease them to other parties, " and, early in the ensuing- 
spring, take all necessary measures for installing the new tenants 
into possession." 

Under the l^eguiling hallucination that the Preemption Laws 
of the United States were a sacred compact between the Govern- 
ment and the citizen, I took the liberty of notifying the Secretary 
of the Board, in reply, that in my judgment it wouUl bi' time 
enough for the Commissioners of the Yo Semite Valley to exercise 
authority over my house, or my horse, or anything that I pos- 
sessed, after they had proven a better title to either than I had 
got, and that I remained very respectfully, etc. 


Believing that 6onGt-^cZe settlers were intrenched and fortified 
behind the bulwarks of National Law as well as of right, and. 
never doubting of ultimate .success, the march of improvement 
kept commensurate progress with the constantly increasing army 


of visitors. But about a year after the service of the notice above 
mentioned, the terms of which had been declined, a legal bomb 
was thrown into our midst, in the shape of "a suit of ejectment" 
against the writer, as a test case for all parties. 


While this action was in abeyance in the District Court, a 
memorial to the State legislature \\'as prepared, and numerously 
signed by a large majority of the prominent residents of the 
county of Mariposa, asking favorable legislation in behalf of the 
Yo Semite settlers. This was accorded by an Act passed in the 
Assembly by a vote of 55 to 9, and in the Senate with only two 
dissenting voices, surrendering to Mr. Lamon and myself all the 
State's right and title to each of our quarter-sections. Resolu- 
tions were also adopted memorializing Congress for confirmation 
of the same. This act not receiving the approval of the Governor, 
H. H. Haight, it was carried over his veto, by a vote of 41 to 
11 in the Assembly, and by 27 to 10 in the Senate, thus making 
it a State law, notwithstanding the objections of the Governor. 
By some kind of clerical hocus pocus, however, this enactment 
was spirited away (?) and could not be found in time for its incor- 
poration among the printed laws of that session ; although it had 
received the necessary signature of the presiding officers of both 
Senate and Assembly ! It was afterwards resurrected from some 
vaulted recess of the State capitol, and is now among the archives 
of the Secretary of State. 

Inasmuch as the State's favorable course in our behalf 
required the indorsement of Congress, to give it full legal effect, 
and establish a perfect title in us to the land tlius settled upon, 
the memorial adopted by the Legislature, and another numerously 
signed, from citizens, with a certified copy of the Act, were 
transmitted to Congress through the Hon. Geo. W. Julian, Chair- 
man of the Committee of Public Lands, of the House of Repre- 
sentatives, asking Congressional action upon this question. 
Throut-h the influence of Mr. Julian — who has always been the 


uncompromising friend of the settler — and the unanimous vote 
of the Committee of Public Lands, an Act passed the House 
embodying the necessary provisions, without a dissenting voice. 
Owing, however, I deeply regret to say, to the most grossly 
unfair and untruthful representations of its enemies, when the 
measure was considered in the Committee of Public Lands of the 
United States Senate, a majority of one caused an unfavorable 
report to be adopted by that committee; and no action was taken 
upon it in the Senate, before Congress adjourned. 

Be it remembered that until Congress had ratified the action 
of the legislature of California in our behalf, the homes we had 
founded in this wild gorge of the mountains, and every dollar 
expended here, were in jeopardy, notwithstanding the beneficent 
provisions of the United States Preemption Laws. It is only just 
here to state that the Board of Commissioners considerately 
refrained from pressing their suit of ejectment, for a time, after 
State action in our behalf, pending that of Congress, for or 
against us; but, finally, calling it up for trial in the District Coui-t, 
owing to its unquestioned equities, judgment was entered for 
defendant, and against the Board of Commissioners. 

As notice of appeal to the State Supreme Court had been 
filed, and fearing that the same ruling might be made there in 
this as in the Suscol Ranch case, although widely differing to the 
latter in many of its conditions and merits. Congressional action 
was again sought. In hopes of preventing the defeat this time of 
so pre-eminently just a measure, by questionable if not positively 
dishonorable means, and to be present to meet any statement or 
inquiry, I visited Washington the ensuing winter, determined 
that the case should have fair play, if possible, whether it stand 
or fall thereby. 


I hope to be forgiven for a short digression here, if only to 

show how an oblicrina: act will sometimes secure for the doer the 

honor (!) of a title. Durinu" the summer of 1869 — the vcar the 


great overland railroad was opened from Omaha to Sacramento 
— the " corps editorial " was largely represented from the Eastern 
States, as visitors to California and Yo Semite, and among them 
some from Washington, D. C At that time the only turnpike- 
road nearing the valley still lacked twenty-five miles ol comple- 
tion, and the intervening space between the stage and the Valley 
being over a mountain trail, could only be traveled on saddle 
animals. As necessity required that I should supply these, and 
a certain kind of superintendence was needed, I had ridden to the 
western end of this intermission of country, and was returning^ 
when I met a passenger far behind his companions, who was in 
trouble with his unpersuasive horse. 1 of course stopped, and 
asked the reason, when the following colloquy ensued : — 

"Mr. H., r cannot induce this animal to keep up with the 
others. How is it?" 

"He knows that you are a tourist, and is making the best 
of his knowledge." 

" What am I to do? At the rate I am traveling I shall not 
be able to reach the station by midnight!" 

"Take my horse — he will carry you through, on time." 

"What! Change animals, here, on the roadT' 

" Certainly. Mine will attend strictly to business, and, 
when your's finds out that I am his rider, he will also make the 
discovery that I am not a tourist, and will give vi'i no trouble." 
The exchange was accordingly made, and, waving a hasty adieu, 
each started at a lively gait, in difi'erent directions. This gentle- 
man proved to be one of the editors of a Washington evening 

Upon my arrival at the nation's capital, and accidentally 
meeting the before-mentioned editor, he gave me most cordial 
greeting, with invitations to dine with him, etc. ; and in the issue 
of his paper of that evening there appeared a notice that "Colonel 

H of Yo Semite, had arrived, and avouM be warudy welcomed 

by his many friends," etc., etc. On the succeeding day we again 
met, and indulged in the following confab: — 


" I see that I am promoted!" 

"Yes! How is that?" 

" I have always understood that I belonged only to the ' full 

privates ; ' but I see by your last evening's that you have 

promoted me to be a Colonel ! " 

With a mischievous twinkle lurking in the corner of his eye, 
came the courteous reply: "Ah! that's all right When you 
have been a resident of Washington as long as I have, you will 
find that a stranger coming here, without a title, is placed, socially, 
at great disadvantage, and I thought you deserving of a good 
send off! Besides, whenever I have remembered that horse trade 
we made upon the mountain trail, I have laughed over the inci- 
dent, many times. I am convinced that instead of promoting 
you to be a colonel, only, I ought to have made you a general — 
and will, next time (!)." 


Upon the reassembling of Congress, the Act which passed the 
House of Representatives at its previous session, was again intro- 
duced by Mr. Julian, and again promptly passed by that body. 
Taking the usual course of similar measures, it was again refeiTcd 
to the United States Senate Committee of Public Lauds. Deeply 
anxious that no act of omission or of commission on my part 
should endanger its successful consideration before that committ<^e, 
(and let it not be overlooked that I was working in the interest of 
our little mountain homes) 1 fii'st waited upon its chairman — 
then Senator Pomeroy, of Kansas— and explained to him the 
whole matter. Looking me straight in the eye, he thus addressed 
me: — 

"Do you say, sir, that you are a settler in Yo Semite Yal- 
ley ? " " I do. Senator. " " What is the actual date of your settle- 
ment there? " Responsive to this inquiry I supplied Senator Pom- 
eroy, not only with the day of my settlement there, and that of 
those whose possessory rights I had purchased, but also Avith ^Ir. 
Lainon's — the time and circumstances of which are narrated in the 


preceding chapter — accompanying these with the substantiating 
testimonials of prominent Cahfornians, well acquainted with the 
facts. After a long pause the Senator again addressed me as 
follows : — 

" Mr. Hutchings, sir, I am perfectly astounded at your state- 
ments, the proofs of which are positive and incontrovertible. 
Why, sir, I distinctly remember when the matter was under 
discussion in the United States Senate, putting this question to 
Senator Conness, the author of the Bill : ' Are there any settlers 
upon that land ? ' — accompanying the question with the remark 
— 'because, if there are, their rights must be respected,' and the 
senator from California made answer, 'No. Not one (!).' With 
that assurance I gave my fullest support to the Bill." 

But for this foundationless statement, then, there can arise 
iDut little doubt that the rights of settlers at Yo Semite, as else- 
where, would have been protected. Here originated the wrong- 
doing; and the successive troubles that beset and followed us in 
after years. And sacredly do I treasure, and would hei'e most 
gratefully record, how steadfastly the sentiment and sympathy 
of the California public continued with us, to brighten and cheer 
us, even to the end. Subsequent action, also, abundantly proved 
that if the State, at any time, had desired the homesteads of the 
Yo Semite settlers, it would have made honorable provisions for 
acquiring them — not wrested them wrongfully away from them. 


" Public policy " was the misleading and delusive key-note 
struck for prevaricating and unprincipled opposition to the meas- 
ure. " It was a question between forty millions of people and 
two men," reasoned the adversary. (It is hoped that becoming 
credit will be accorded the " two men " for having pluck enough 
to "breast the breach" against "forty millions of people!") 
Conceding this, would not the " forty millions " — a few of the 
meaner ones excepted, perhaps — have preferred the equitable 


acquisition of our legally obtained lands — legally obtained, if the 
Preemption Laws meant anything, notwithstanding the technical 
rulings of the courts — than to wrest them wrongfully from us, 
even though it should have taken the one-thousandth part of one 
mill each, more or less, from the aforesaid "forty millions of 
people" to have accomplished this. 


Of course -necessary delays would continually occur in the 
action of Congressional Committees, and from other causes ; delays 
that would have proven a heavy dram upon one's patience as 
well as finances, had I not devoted the interim to the apparently 
accepted mission of my life — the dissemination of knowledge on 
the charming realities of Yo Semite. To accomplish the one, and 
subserve the other, therefore, in addition to frequent visits to 
Washington for conferences with Congressional members, I gave 
some eighty-seven illustrated lectures on Yo Semite, sometimes to 
audiences of over three thousand. The results of this action were 
three-fold; first, in giving pleasant occupation to leisure hours; 
second, by assisting my finances (Mr. Lamon being too poor to 
contribute anything) ; and, third, by inviting the interested atten- 
tion of the public to the marvelous grandeur of the scenery of Yo 
Semite, that afterwards induced many thousands to visit it : And 
who, I trust, were never sorry for so doing. 


Notwithstanding these opposing forces from without, a 
majority of the United States Senate Committee of Public Lands 
expressed themselves to the writer as holding the above-mentioned 
views of the case, and for favorably reporting the Bill; yet, in 
the absence of some friends of the measure, when its consideration 
was entertained in that committee, a majority of one was secured 
against it, just as that session of Congress was closing; when it 
was assigned to tlie unfinished business of the Senate — and con- 
sequently again to defeat. 



Meanwhile, the Board of Commissioners appealed from the 
decision of the District Court, to the State Supreme Court, where, 
under the ruhng of the Supreme Court of the United States, in 
the Suscol Ranch Case, while admitting in its decision that I was 
a hona fide settler upon the land before it was donated to the 
State, had lived upon it ever since with ni}' family, and was 
ready at any time to prove up my preemption claim, and to pay 
the purchase money, whenever the land could have been surveyed, 

" If a qualified preemptioner enter upon a portion gf the public 
domain, witli the intention to preempt the same, and performs all the 
acts necessary to perfect his preemptive right, except the payment of the 
purchase price, the Government may, nevertheless, at any time before the 
price is actually paid, or tendered, devote the land to another purpose, 
and thereby wholly defeat the right of preemption." — California Reports, 
July. 1871, Vol. 41, pp. 658-2. 

Although this judgment was appealed, from the State Su- 
preme Court to that of the United States, it was afterwards 
affirmed by that body, as their action could not be made retro- 
active from their decision in the Suscol Ranch Case. 


It may seemingly appear an act of supererogation, if not of 
arrogant assumption, on the part of any one, especially of lawyers 
who are eminent in their profession, to interpret the decision of 
the Supreme Court in the Suscol Ranch and Yo Semite cases — 
although not analogous in their equities — as traversing the well- 
understood and beneficent provisions of the Preemption Laws, and 
subverting the covenantal principles of a general law to subserve 
a specific purpose, and one that could have been better* provided 
for some other way. There is evidently a broad foundation 
for questioning the soundness of this ruling, as the settler has 
an abundant surplus of difficulties to overcome, without their 
unnecessary increase, involving thi' title to his land. The " unpar- 


donable sin " assumed to have been committed by the settlers at 
Yo Semite was twofold — one, in choosing so wildly picturesque a 
portion of the public domain whereon to form a home; and the 
other to stand up manfully in its defense, after some one else 
wanted it. Herein lay the extent of their sinning, and the hein- 
ousness of their offenses. Had their choice fallen upon some 
shelterless desert, no envious motive would have prompted a wish 
for claiming it, or for their dispossession. 

After the legal status of the question had been determined by 
the courts, and Congressional action circumstantially deferred, 
the writer received numerous letters from representative Cali- 
fornians, asking him to forego any further efforts before Congress, 
until the will and wishes of the Californian pvd)lic could be con- 
sulted in the matter. This was acceded to. And when the 
Legislature of 1874 assembled, an appropriation was made of 
S60,000 for the purpose of compensating the Yo Semite settlers for 
any financial loss they might sustain, by surrendering all tla-ir 
right and title to the State. For the purpose of carrying out the 
provisions of this enactment, three special commissioners were 
appointed by the Executive of the State, Gov. Newton Booth, 
who repaired to Yo Semite to ascertain the relative proportion of 
the sum appropriated that should be paid to each. 

It should here be explained that in addition to the two actual 
settlers, there were two others that claimed indemnity for improve- 
ments ; and, in order to avoid any future controversies upon this 
subject, it was resolved that tliese claims should also be considered, 
and disposed of at this juncture. In order to arrive at a just 
estimate of the relative expenditures of each claimant, an expert 
was employed, who reported as follows: — 

Improvements made by J. M. Hutchings, $41,000; James 
C. Lamon, Sll,000; A. G. Black, 88,350; Ira G. Folsom, 84,000. 
Notwithstanding this showing by the expert, the fohowmg 
awards were made by a majority Ol the special commission: — 

J. M. Hutchings, 824.000; Jas. C. Lamon, 812,000; A. G. 
Black, 822,000. Mr. Black was to pay Ira B. Folsom out of his 


awai'd ; but as Mr. Black and Mr. Folsom could not agree upon 
the amount to be paid the latter, the whole matter was brought up 
befoi'e the State Board of Examiners, as provided by the statutes, 
when the expert was summoned, and the merits and demerits 
of each award that had been made, relatively examined and dis- 
cussed, and finally adjudged as follows: J. M. Hutchings, $24,000; 
Jas. C. Lamon, $12,000; A. G. Black, $13,000; Ira B. Folsom, 
$6,000— total, $55,000. The balance of the $60,000 appropri- 
ated was returned to the State Treasury. When the sums 
awarded had been accepted, and paid to the parties in interest, a 
quit claim deed was given by each, of all claims to either land or 
improvements, to the State. Thus ended the unequal contest, of 
many years, between the old Board of Yo Semite Commissioners 
and the Yo Semite settlers. Comment would bo superfluous, as 
facts not only tell their own story, but suggest their own infer- 

Before closing tliis unvarnished recital, however, I wish to 
give especial prondnence to the magnanimous action of the State 
in favor of the settlers; first, in declining to take the least ad- 
vantage of the adjudgment of the higher courts against them; 
and, second, in its recognition of the equities of their claim, by 
procuring for them a becomingly liberal appropriation, as com- 
pensation therefor; thus proving that the State requires no injus- 
tice or wrong to be committed in her name or visited upon any of 
her citizens however plausible may be the excuse for attempting it. 

Since the passage of the Acts introduced at the commence- 
ment of this chapter the following Governors have been ex offi^cio 
Presidents of the Board of Commissioners: F. F. Low, H. H. 
Haiiiht, Newton Booth, Romualdo Pacheco, William G. Irwin, 
George C. Perkins, and George Stoneman. 

The following gentlemen constitute the present Board 'of Yo 
Semite Connnissioners: His Excellency Geo. Stoneman, President; 
I. W. Raymond, Vice-President; Wm. B. May, Secretary and 
Treasurer; Wm. H. Mills, J. H. O'Brien, Thos. P. Madden, Jona- 
than Mentzer, E. W. Chapman, and J. M. Griffith. 




If thou art worn and hard beset 

With sorrows, that thou would'st forget; 

If thou would'st read a lesson that will keep 

Thy heart from fainting, and thy soul from sleep — 

Go to the woods and hills. 

— Longfellow. 

The traveled mind is the catholic mind educated from exclusiveness and 

— Alcott's Table Talk. 

Travel makes all men country men, makes people noblemen and kings, every 
man tasting of liberty and dominion. 

— Alcott'.s Concord Days. 

The reader knows as well as I do that it is of little conse- 
quence, in point of fact, whether a spirit of romance, the love of 
the grand and beautiful in scenery, the suggestions or promptings 
of a fascinating woman — be she friend, sweetheart, or wife — the 
desire for change, the want of recreation, or the necessity for a 
restoration and recuperation of an overtasked physical or mental 
organization, or both — whatever may be the instrumentality that 
first gives birth to the wish for, or the love of, travel ; when the 
mind is thoroughly niade up, and the committee of ways and 
means reports itself financially prepared to undertake the pleas- 
urable task — in order to enjoy it with luxurious zest, Ave must 
resolve upon four things: first, to leave the "peek of troubles," 
and a few thrown in, entirely behind us; second, to have none 
but good, suitable, and genial-hearted companions; third, a sutti- 
cient supply of personal patience, good humor, forbearance, and 
creature comforts for all emergencies; and, fourth, when it is 
possible, not to be in a hurry. To these both one and all, who 



have ever visited the Yo Semite Valley and the Big Trees, I know 
will say — Amen. 

According to the unim peached testimony of nearly every 
traveler, there is not a country on earth, known to civilization, 
that possesses more of the beautiful and wildly picturesque than 
California. Her towering and pine-covered mountains ; her wide- 
spread valleys, carpeted with flowers; her leaping water-falls; her 
foaming cataracts; her rushing rivers; her placid lakes; her 
ever green and densely timbered forests; her gently rolling hills, 
covered with blooming shrubs and trees, and wild flowers, give a 
voiceless invitation to the traveler to look upon her and admire. 

The difficulties that generally beset the stranger are to learn 
how those that are the most noteworthy can be seen to the best 
advantage. This shall be the exclusive aim and object of this 
work. And at the outset I wish it to be distinctly understood 
that all route rivalry, or expressed preference, will be utterly 
ignored, my object being to present the most salient and attractive 
features of each and all routes, and leave it to the intelligent 
visitor to select for himself the one best calculated to give him 
the largest return of pleasure. Then, as tastes vary in different 
individuals, that which would be most enjoyable to one might 
prove altogether the reverse in another. It is true there may 
arise reasons, occasionally, in the interests of the traveling public, 
why suggestions, born of experience, should be freely offered, even 
though they should conflict somewhat with the interests and plans 
of private individuals, or companies ; and, however this might be 
regretted, they will be fearlessly presented, and the results allowed 
to take care of themselves. 

As many lovers of the sublime and beautiful will doubtlessly 
desire to visit the remarkable scenes that await their appreciative 
admiration in the High Sierra, and as I cannot in this brief out- 
line present all the various routes thereto from every village, 
town, and city in the State — for they are almost as numerous as 
the different roads that C-hristians seem to take to their expected 
heaven, and the multitudinous creeds about the way and manner 


of getting there — I shall content myself with giving the principal 
ones, and after reciting the following quaint and unanswerable 
argument of a celebrated divine, to the querulous and unchari- 
tably disjDosed members of his tlock, proceed at once to delineate 
their principal characteristics: — 

" There was a Christian brother — a Presbyterian — who 
walked up to the gate of the New Jerusalem, and knocked for 
admittance, when an angel who was in charge, looked down from 
above and inquired what he wanted. 'To come in,' was the 
answer. 'Who and what are you?' ' A Presbyterian. ' 'Sit on 
that seat there. ' This was on the outside of the gate ; and the 
good man feared that he had been refused admittance. Pres- 
ently arrived an Episcopalian, then a Baptist, then a Methodist, 
and so on, until a representative of every Christian sect had made 
his appearance; and each alike ordered to take a seat outside. 
Before they had long been there," continued the good man, "a 
loud and familiar anthem bi'oke forth, rolling and swelling upon 
the air from the choir within; when those outside immediately 
joined in the chorus. ' Oh ! ' said the angel as he opened wide the 
gate, ' I did not know you by your names, but you have all 
learned one song- — come in ! come in ! The name you bear, or the 
way by which you came, is of little consequence compared with 
your being here at all.' As you, my brethren," the godly man 
went on — " as you expect to live peaceably and lovingly together 
in heaven, you had better begin to practice it on earth. I have 
done." As this allegorical advice needs no words of application 
either to the traveler or to the Christian, in the hope that the 
latter will take the admonition of Captain Cuttle, "and make 
a note on't," and an apology to the reader for this digression, I 
will at once enter upon my pleasing task. 


All of which can now be traveled by rail and coach to the doors of 
each hotel there, spring principally from one main or trunk 
route, like branches from a young tree. This is the Central 


Pacific Railroad from San Francisco to Lathrop. It is true, how- 
ever, that two of the seven routes mentioned, being from Stockton, 
can be reached by steamboat. The seven branches, each of 
which is to be hereafter briefly described- — and they will be given 
in the order determined by allotment, to avoid even the semblance 
of favoritism — are as follows : — 

First: The " Milton and Calaveras Big Tree Route." This 
is from Lathrop to Stockton, by rail (or from San Francisco by 
steamboat), thence to Milton, by rail;* thence via Murphys, 
Calaveras Big Tree Groves, Sonora, and Chinese Camp to Val- 
ley, by coach. 

Second: The •' Berenda Route via Grant's Sulphur Springs." 
Fi"om Lathrop to Berenda (S. P. R. R.), thence to Raymond 
by rail ; thence to Gambetta Gold Mines, Grant's Sulphur Springs, 
Wawona, and Mariposa Big Tree Groves, to Valley, by coach. 

Third: The "Madera Route via Fresno Flats." From 
Madera (S. P. R. R.) via Fresno Flats, Fish Springs, Wawona, 
and Mariposa Big Tree Groves, to Valley, by coach. 

Fourth: The " Coulterville Route via Modesto." From 
Lathrop to Modesto (S. P. R. R.), by rail; thence via La Grange, 
Coulterville, Dudley's, Bower Cave, and Merced Grove of Big 
Trees, to Valley, by coach. 

Fifth: The '' Coulterville Route, ?;ia Merced." From Lathrop 
to Merced (S. P. R. R.), by rail; thence via Snellings, Merced 
Falls, Coulterville, and Merced Grove of Big Trees, to Valley, by 

Sixth: The "Mariposa Route." From Lathrop to Merced 
(S. P. R. R.), by rail; thence via Hornitos, Princeton, Mariposa, 
Waw^ona, and Mariposa Big Tree Groves, to Valley, by coach. 

Seventh: The "Milton and Big (3ak Flat Route." From 
Lathrop to Stockton (C. P. R. R.), by rail, or by steamboat; 
thence to Milton (S. & C. R. R.), by rail; thence via Copperopo- 

*There is also a narrow-gauge railroad in course of coustruction from Brack's 
Landing on the Mokelumne liiver. t<> the Calaveras Grove — already completed 
to Valley Springs, and running from Lodi on the C. P. E. R. to that point. 


lis, Chinese Camp, Moffit's Bridge, Priests, Big Oak Flat, Crockers, 
and Tuolumne Grove of Big Trees, to Valley, by coach. 

Each of these will be briefly outlined, and the different points 
of interest noted, in separate chapters, accompanied by a map 
that will indicate the diverging and connecting lines of each 
particular route — which, please consult — so as to enable visitors 
to travel understandingly, and, it is hoped, enjoyably, by what- 
soever route they may elect to take. But, to make a journey 
thoroughly pleasurable, and its close a delightful memory, a limited 
amount of business caution should precede the start, and more or 
less accompany the traveler to the end. 

Of course I will, if you please, assume that the object of the 
trip is at least twofold, — intellectual and physical gratification, 
and the gathering of impressions and facts, that may be of use 
hereafter. With a desire to subserve such laudable purposes, 
permit me to make a few preliminary suggestions, tending some- 
what to insure these results: — 

First: Go in by one route, and out by another — remember- 
ing that all routes are picturesque and interesting while being 
equally safe. Should any one advise you to the contrary, you 
may be sure that he has some unworthy business " ax to grind; " 
therefore, heed him not. 

Second: Having thoroughly made up your mind about the 
route that you prefer, see that your ticket, upon its face, exactly 
represents your wishes. Oral explanations are not always con- 
veniently at hand, when they are perhaps most needed; and 
memory sometimes may be at fault, but written or printed testi- 
mony is always to the point, if presentable. 

Third: Never be induced to leave a trunk, or a hat-box, or 
valise, or fish-rod, or rifle, or anything else, in any way calculatt'd 
to compel you to return by that or any other route, contrary to 
your well-considered plans and intentions. 

If, after what you read below, you have been induced to 
take something you do not need, either carry it along with you, or 
leave it at, or conveniently near, some junction of the two roads. 



This, you will allow, is a difficult matter for me to determine, 
and one that will require your generous forbearance and assist- 
ance. These questions settled, I will suppose that your good sense 
(no flattery is intended) will suggest at the start that all Saratoga 
trunks should be eschewed, even if their dimensions do not exceed 
those of an ordinary cottage or two. If you have one of moder- 
ate pretensions, be siire and carefully examine its contents with 
the view of laying aside everything that you know will not be 
wanted. Next, turn over your effects again, and reject every- 
thing you feel that you could conscientiously do without. 

Now, if health and comfort are studied, gentlemen will see 
that they have one extra of each of the following articles: One 
pair of good serviceable bf)(jts (not necessarily very heavy) that 
have been broken to the feet; onc^ conq^k'te outfit of underclothing; 
one woolen overshirt; three or four pairs of hose (woolen should 
be preferred); one suit of strong clothes (old ones, if not too easily 
torn, would be the best, as they will be good for nothing after 
your return); poekt t-haudkerchiefs, and a few other necessary 
articles; remembering that there are laundries in the Valley. 
Ladies would do well by taking some of the hints thrown out to 
gentlemen — in providing themselves with Avoolen dresses of suita- 
ble length, color, and texture, made in the Bloomer or other similar 
style, as such would be found to possess both comfort and adapta- 
bility ; durable linen riding habit ; boots that were made for wear 
more than for ornament ; a warm shawl ; and by making choice 
of such other articles as will best meet their wants, wishes, and 
tastes, Avithout further enumeration from me. These should all 
be packed in as small a valise as |)Ossible; or, if an extended trip 
into the mountains is intended, in a pair of saddle-bags. 

At best it will be difficult to give advice that will accord 
with every variety of condition and of circumstance. By way 
of illustration, we may mention that an estimable and intelligent 
lady correspondent of a San Fi-aneis o ])aper visited Yo Semite 
early in May; and, tinding the weather cool, advised every 


lady to go there warmly clad. Other ladies, later in the season, 
taking that advice, and finding the climate pleasantly warm, 

remarked, "How could Mrs. H recommend us to come in 

such warm clothing? when we return we will tell all our lady 
friends to choose none but light summer dresses!" 

Always look out for your baggage, and see that every piece 
is surely placed upon the conveyance you are about to take before 
leaving the hotel door. Careful attention to the above sugges- 
tions will, believe me, preserve you from many detracting an- 
noyances in the future of your journey. 


Supposing that you have wisely chosen your companions, 
of both sexes, from those you hnoiv possess kindred tastes and 
dispositions, each of whom expects to assume, cheerfully, his or 
her full share of all the duties appertaining to camp-life — whether 
in song, a good story, recitation, or in the somewhat exacting 
attentions of the cuisene — you will then be in a position to 
consider how the enjoyments of the trip can be best subserved. 
Here permit me to make a few suggestions which originated 
in the laboratory of experience: — 


Let it consist, mainly, as follows: A light yet strong coach, 
sufficiently capacious to accommodate your party comfortably, es- 
pecially if the weather is, like Bob Sawyer's apple (see Pickwick 
Papers), unpleasantly warm ; horses that are known to be, not only 
true to the harness, but of about the same size and weight, and 
equal to evei-y reasonable emergency of both load and road ; bearing 
in mind that there are not less than from five to six thousand feet 
of altitude to be overcome, between the plains and Yo Semite, or 
Big Trees, the grade being heavy in some places. Do not overload 
with stores, for two reasons : First, it saps away the strength and 
spirit of your horses (to say nothing of your own), and conse- 
quently retards both speed and progress. Second, because every 
kind of article, almost, from a needle to a saAV-horse, can be 



obtained upon ari-ival, and generally at fairly reasonable prices, 
considering their distance from the market. Still, enough should 
be taken for the necessities of the road. Provide a flattish sheet- 
iron, bottomless, cook-stove, of reasonably heavy iron, having two 
or four holes on top, and one length of stove-pipe, snugly fitted to 
the stove ; a nest of camp-kettles (four or five) that fit into each 
other; baking, bread, and dish pans (one of the matrons of the 
party should select all such articles); frying-pan, bake-oven, 
coffee and teapots, granite-ware plates and cups; tea and table- 
spoons, and one large batter spoon; knives and forks, including a 
couple of good butcher knives ; salt, pepper, sugar, tea and coffee 
basrs, with extra ones for times of need. Then to these do not 
forget to add a whetstone, towels, soap, brooms, needles and 
thread, scissors, buttons, matches and candles, writing-paper, pens, 
ink, envelopes, postage stamps, etc. Then to these add three 
pairs of blankets for each couple, and as many for each one who 
prefers to sleep alone. 


Suitable tents should always be provided for the ladies, and 
one long tent for general use, open at the front for its entire 
length, and consisting of one sheet of strong drilling, say three 
yards in width by five in length, with ends, resembling those of 
an old-fashioned Dutch-oven, as illustrated below. This, with the 
lower back edge fastened to the ground (suitable holes having been 



worked into the sheet for picket-pins) is supported in front by a 
light pole-post, set under it at each front corner; over which a 
small cord (running the whole length of, and well sewed to, the 
sheet) is drawn tight, and fastened to a pin driven in the ground, 
in advance of the front line of the tent, by which the whole is 
made secure. A similar sheet, to form a kind of carpet, should be 
spread upon the ground, or over the improvised bedding of leaves, 
hay, pine needles, etc., to keep the blankets clean. These sheets, 
when carefully shaken, and folded once, make an excellent wrap 
for the blankets, sheets, pillows, and other articles requiring to be 
kept clean, especially if well tied up, to keep out the dust. 

Contrivances like these add largely to the comfort of a party, 
by providing a place of shelter for themselves, and outfit, in all 
weathers, as well as a compartment for general rendezvous, and 
for social pleasures at all times. (Eleven of us — six ladies and 
five gentlemen — enjoyably occupied one of these in our mountain 
wanderings, for over three months.) In the Sierra Nevadas 
the summer winds generally blow from the east at night, and the 
open tent should be so pitched as to have the back of it towards 
that quarter; then the wind not only sweeps over it, but carries 
away all the camp-fire smoke, instead of driving it into the tent. 
For rainy weather in California it should be pitched towards the 
south, and the front open to the north. If the purposes of sight- 
seeing, or an outlook towards the horses, or wagon, can be sub- 
served by changing its direction a little, that can be done without 
interfering with any of its protective provisions. Be sure and 
select a dry place, as convenient as possible to wood and water, 
for your camp-ground. Now, although fine weather is the rule 
among the mountains of California, during summer, it should be 
borne in mind that nearly every rule has its exceptions, and this 
is one ; therefore, it behooves every camping-party to be prepared 
for storms, should they come. Timely provision should accord- 
ingly be made for these, in order to avoid discomfort, and, possibly, 
severe colds. The old saying that " one ounce of prevention is- 
better than pounds of antidotes," will, believe me, be found serv- 
iceable here, as elsewhere. 



Speed the soft intercourse from soul to soul, 
And waft a sigh from Indus to the pole. 

— Pope's Eloise to Abelard. 

Traveling is no fool's errand to him who carries his eyes and itinerary with 

— Alcott's Tahle Tall; 

Know most of the rooms of thy native country before thou goest over the 

threshold thereof. 


There are probably but few, if any, more exciting scenes in 
any part of the world than are to be witnessed on almost any 
day, Sunday excepted, at the Market Street Wharf, San Fran- 
cisco, upon the departure of the various trains for the interior, or 
overland. Men and women are hurrying to and fro; drays, 
carriages, express wagons, and horsemen dash past you with as 
much haste and vehemence as though they were carr;ying a 
reprieve to some poor condemned criminal, the last moments of 
whose life were fast ebbing away, and by the speedy delivery of 
that reprieve, they expected to save him from the scaffold. Indeed, 
one would suppose, by the apparently reckless manner in riding 
and driving through the crowd, that numerous limbs, if not necks, 
would be broken, and vehicles made into mince-meat! Yet, to 
your surprivse, nothing of the kind occurs ; for, upon arriving at 
the smallest obstruction, animals are reined in with a promptness 
that astonishes. 

Interesting as this may be to you as a spectator, it should 
not be allowed to divert your attention sufficiently to prevent the 
timely checking of your trunk, or valise, to the very railway 



terminus you are to leave by stage, or to cause your being the 
proverbial " last man," as he sometimes arrives too late. Presum-. 
ing that all such matters have received becoming consideration; 
that your ticket, upon its face, provides for all emergencies of 
travel upon the route you have chosen ; and, moreover, that you 
are safely aboard the ferry-boat that is speeding yoa towards 
the wonderful Valley and the Big Tree Groves; as you may be 
a stranger here, and somewhat unfamiliar with the scenes that 
will open before you, I will, in imagination at least, with your 
kind permission, be .your traveling companion on this excursion, 
and explain such matters as most naturally will claim our 

As it is generally cool in summer, when crossing the Bay of 
San Francisco, please put on your overcoat, and let us take a cozy 
seat together on the north side the boat; and while the black 
smoke is rolling in volumes from the funnels of numerous steam- 
ers, and we are shooting out from the wdiarf, past this or that 
vessel now lying at anchor, or furling its sails from a voyage or 
spreading them for one; while numerous nervous people are 
troubling about their baggage, and asking the porter all sorts of 
questions, let us have a quiet chat upon the sights to be seen 
around us. The first object of interest, after leaving the wharf 
and the city behind us, is 



This is just opposite the Golden Gate, and about half way 
between the city and Angel Island. It commands the great land- 
locked Bay of San Francisco, and is but three and a half miles 
from Fort Point, on the southern side of the Golden Gate. Thia 
island (now generally called " Alcatraz") is one hundred and forty 
feet in height above low water mark, four hundred and fifty feet 
in width, and sixteen hundred and fifty feet in length; somewhat 
irregular in outline, and fortified on all sides. The large building 
on its summit is a defensive barrack, or citadel, three stories high, 
which in time of peace will, with other quarters, accommodate about 
two hundred men ; and in war about three times that number. 
It is not only a shelter for the soldiers, capable of withstanding a 
respectable cannonade, but from its top a murderous fire could be 
opened upon its assailants at all parts of the island. There is, 
moreover, a belt of fortifications encircling the island, mounting 
guns of the heaviest caliber, and of the latest improved patterns. 

Besides these there are stone guard-houses, shot and shell 
proof, protected by heavy gates and draw-bridges, and having 
embrasures for rifled cannon that command the approaches in 
every direction. Their tops, like the barrack, are flat, for the 
use of riflemen. In addition to these there are several bomb- 
proof magazines, and a large furnace for heating cannon balls. 

Unfortunately, no natural supply of water has yet been dis- 
covered on the island, so that all of this element has to be carried 
there in tanks, and stored in a larg-e cistern at the basement of 
the barracks. For washing purposes a sufiicient quantity is 
obtained from the roofs of the principal buildings. At the south- 
eastern end of the island is a fog-bell, of about the same size and 
weight as that at Fort Point, which is regulated to strike by 
machinery every (^[uarter of a minute. There is also a light-house 
at the south of the barracks, with newly improved lenses, the 
glare from which can be distinctly seen, on a clear night, some 
twelve miles outside the Heads, and is of essential service in 
directing the course of vessels when entering the Bay. Northerly 
from Alcatraces, about two and a half miles distant, and five 
from San Francisco, is 



This contains some eight hundred acres of excellent land, and 
is by far the largest and most valuable of any in the Bay of San 
Francisco. The wild oats and grasses that grow to its very sum- 
mit, in early spring, give pasturage to stock of all kinds needed 
here; while several natural springs, at different points, supply 
good water in abundance, and at all seasons. A large portion of 
the island is susceptible of cultivation for all kinds of vegetables 
and cereals. Beautiful wild flowers grow in sequestered places 
from one end of it to the other. Live oaks (quercus agrifolia) 
supply both shade and firewood. Belonging, as it does, to tlie 
Government, it is a favorite place of residence for army officers 
stationed there, for whose accommodation a small steamer plies, 
regularly, between this island (calling at Alcatraces, Fort Point, 
and Point San Jose) and San Francisco. 

From its almost inexhaustible quarries of hard blue and 
brown sandstone, nearly all the material for foundations of build- 
ings in San Francisco were taken, in early times. The extensive 
fortifications at Alcatraces Island, Fort Point, and other places, 
have been faced with it, and the extensive Government works at 
Mare Island have been principally built mth stone from these 
quarries. Clay, also, in abundance, and of excellent quality for 
bricks, is found here. 

As Angel Island lies midway between Alcatraces Island and 
the main-land the guns from its fortifications completely sweep 
the bay, southerly, and Raccoon Straits, northwesterly, aflbrd- 
ing thorough protection on all sides. But for these not only would 
our Navy Yard at Mare Island be in jeopardy, but the city of San 
Francisco itself would be exposed; inasmuch as an enemy's war 
vessel could easily enter the harbor by Raccoon Straits, during a 
heavy fog, that frequently in summer hangs over the Golden 
Gate, if permitted to pass Fort Point in safety. 


Is the highest point in the more immediate surroundings of the 
Bay of San Francisco, and is a prominent landmark far out at 


sea. It stands northwesterly from the city of San Francisco, and 
its top is about fifteen miles distant, "as the crow flies." Its 
height above sea level is 2,610 feet. A good road to its summit 
from San Rafael now enables every one to view the comprehensive 
and beautiful landscape thence, not only with comfort but with 
positive enjoyment. We generally climbed it afoot, for exercise. 
The light-colored mark on its southern side was caused by a 
" cloud-burst," which literally tore out the earth and rocks to the 
depth of several feet, and for over forty feet in width by a hun- 
dred and fifty in length. This torrent-cut material, sweeping 
with impetuous force down a ravine, set bowlders free, tore out 
trees by their roots, snapped others in two, and made sad havoe 
from top to bottom. This event occurred in 1861. If I were to 
detain you here with descriptions of its madrone, laurel, oak, and 
other trees ; its fragrant shrubs, and numei'ous wild flowers, there 
is no telling when or wdiere this theme would end. But while we 
have been chatting, and watching the receding city, with its 
seven hills — like Rome — all covered with buildings; or looking 
at the English, French, or German, and other ships-of-war that 
are now resting so peacefully at anchor, like sleeping giants; or 
admiring the daring of those little steam-tugs that shoot hither 
and thither, and take hold of vessels many dozen times their size, 
and push them wherever they may list ; or interestedly note the 
craft of all sizes flitting across the seething wake of our boat, 
and glinting in the far-ofl" sunlight; or listening to the beating 
paddles of numerous ferry-boats, starting in all conceivable direc- 
tions ; or observing that steamer with the stately sweep and build, 
whose prow so proudly cuts the brine, that is just now sailing 
for Panama, or Hong Kong via Japan, or Australia, or for one 
of the many Pacific Coast ports; while we have been observing 
these, and perhaps many other objects of interest, we have come 
abreast of a little green spot now known as 


When occupied by Mexicans it was called " Yerba Buena 
Island," from the generous supply of the "good herb" (Micro- 



meria Douglasii) found on its northern and sheltered side. It is 
now in the possession of the United States Government, and used 
mainly as a Fog-Horn Signal Station — a very necessary precau- 
tion in foggy weather, especially to the well-patronized ferries 
that ply between San Francisco and Oakland, or Alameda — and 
for the manufacture and storage of buoys, many of which can be 
seen lying on the landing there. Strenuous efforts were made 
several years ago for the possession of this island by the Central 
Pacific Railroad Company, as the western terminus of their great 
overland road, and for the accommodation of vessels loading with 
wheat, wool, argentiferous ores, or other California products ; but 
the property owners of San Francisco saw the mental mirage of 
a rival city looming up, and successfully opposed its cession. 
Now the ship-loading business, intended for Goat Island, is carried 
on at Long Wharf, northwesterly from the Oakland pier, whei'e 
vessels from all nations can be seen taking in cargo, for their 
respective destinations. But the ring of the bell responded 
to impatiently, apparently, by the passengers gives intimation 
that we have crossed the Bay of San Francisco, and are at 


The distance across, from the Market Street Wharf to the 
Oakland Pier, is three miles and sixty-three one hundredths, and 
has taken us just twenty minutes to accomplish it. Let us pause 
for a moment, if you please, and gaze at the hurrying stream of 
human life, flowing out from these conmiodious ferry-boats. If 
you and I could follow each and every one to his abiding place, 
enter into the secret heart-life of each and know their various 
plans and hopes, their sorrows, fears, and cares, I think our 
hearts would soften a little to the many. But, as we have to mix 
with the throng, or be left behind, we naturally cut short our 
reveries and walk ashore. Now a clear stentorian voice announces : 
" Passengers for Benicia, Sacramento, Stockton, Lathrop, and 
all intermediate points, please to step this way," and we flow with 
the outward-bound tide of humanity into the capacious depot, 


where there seems to be a bewildering numbei- of trains, for all 
sorts of places; but as the destination of each is announced in 
large letters, " so that he who runneth can read," there is no dan- 
ger of our selecting the wrong one. • 

As our course when leaving the ferry-boat has been to the 
left, we may have unintentionally passed 


Perhaps, without noticing it. This would be a regretable omis- 
sion, as it is one of the most connnodious, as well as most com- 
I f ortable waiting-rooms, to be found in any country or clime ; for as 
soon as it is entered by returning passengers, its spaciousness, and 
cheery brightness bespeak a cordial welcome that always im-, 
presses pleasantly. Photographs, paintings, and " live " advertise- 
ments make it fairly to glisten with sprightliness. But to our 


With the waters of the Bay on each side of us, we speed 
along rapidly over a solid road-bed of rock, made through the 
shallow stretches of the Bay, instead of on piles and beams, as 
formerly, adding materially to the safety of the transit over it ; 
the outlook broadening, and the interest deepening, as we advance. 

There is something very exhilarating about the excitements 
of a journey through an unfamiliar country, and as soon as we 
have taken our seat in the railway car, and object after object, 
or scene after scene, opens up before us, we long for some one at 
our elbow, or by our side, to answer questions. This gratification 
is not always attainable. But, partly in anticipation of your 
wishes, it may be well to explain them briefly as we roll com- 
fortably along. And, by way of commencement, when the cars 
stop at any particular station, as the conductor may be busy 
with his duties, and as you may like to know just how far we 
have traveled, the following table will explain the distances 
between San Francisco and Lathrop. — 




By Railway 
From San Francisco to — 

Oakland Pier 

West Oakland 

Sixteenth Street, Oakland. 

Stock Yards 

West Berkeley 


Point Isabel 

Stege . - . 

Barrett . 

San Pablo 

Sobrante . 








Bay Point 















From „ 

San Fran- , ^jom 














Total from San Francisco to Lathrop 1 94.34 





























86 34 




On, on we ride, past the western suburbs of Oakland, the 
Stock Yards, and West Berkek^y, various manufacturing estab- 
lishments, catching a hasty ghmpse of the Cahfornia University 
buiklino-s, the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Asvlum, and other State 
institutions, standing among the gently rolling- foot-hills of the 
Contra Costa Range, the distance for many miles out being dotted 
with comfortable residences or pi-ospei-ous farms. Back of and 
east of these rise the green yet almost treeless ridges of the Contra 
Costa Hills, covered to their summits in spring and early summer 
with a luxuriant growth of wild oats, which, in the fall, change 
to a rich golden brown, fi-om very dryness. 


In early days, owing to carelessness, or to wantonness, 
miles of this parched surface would be ignited, and fire sweep 
over it in rolling waves, throwing its lurid light both far and 
near, and burning everything that was combustil»le — the wild 
oats included. Fortunately, however, nature had provided each 
grain with two slender extremities, as though anticipatmg the 
coming danger ; and as the oats dropped down upon the ground, 
and became swollen by the dews of night, those extremities were 
contracted inwards towards the body of the grain, when their 
feet inserted themselves into the ground ; the next day's warmth 
dried out the moisture, and in so doing straightened out the legs, 
so that by this process the grain itself was forced forward, until 
it dropped into one of the many sun-cracks near, and was entirely 
out of danger from the destroying element. The first heavy rains 
following, swell the earth sufficiently to cover the wild oats en- 
tirely up; when they stool out from among their hiding-places in 
the cracks; and wdien the tender shoots make their appearance, 
the whole surface presents a resemblance to some grotesquely 
woven, tessellated carpet. 

Moving rapidly forward, and shooting past some stations 
without stopping, our course, for nearly thirty miles, lies along 
the southeastern margin of the charming bays of San Francisco 
and San Pablo ; the light glinting upon their waters, and beyond 


which are the purple hills looming up in picturesque irregularity, 
indicating numerous spurs, or starting j)Oiiits of apparently- 
different ranges, until we pass the Starr Co.'s flouring mills 
(where some two thousand five hundred barrels of flour are said 
to be manufactured daily) and arrive at Yallejo Junction. Now 
we lose those of our fellow-passengers who are bound for Vallejo, 
the Government works of Mare Island, Napa, and other pros- 
perous settlements in these midland valleys. 

Three miles farther on — the intermediate distance occupied 
mainly by grain warehouses and workshops — we reach the fa- 
mous ferry landing of Port Costa, where all Eastern-bound passen- 
o-ers leave us for their multifarious destinations. Here we find 


This plies between Port Costa and Benicia, across the Straits 
of Carquinez, the distance between the slips being within a few 
feet of one mile. As this is the largest boat of her class afloat, the 
following description, kindly furnished by its owners, will be 
found interesting : — 

The dimensions of the double-ender transfer boat Solano are: Length 
over all, 424 feet; length on bottom, 406 feet; height of sides, at center, 18 
feet 5 inches; at ends, from bottom of boat, 15 feet 10 inches; moulded 
beam, 64 feet; extreme width over guards, 116 feet; camber, or reverse 
shear of deck, 2 feet 6 inches. Draught, light, 5 feet; loaded, 6 feet 6 
inches. Eegistered tonnage, 3,541 31-100 tons. 

She has two vertical beam engines: Cylinders, 60-inch bore, 11 feet 
stroke; wheels, 30 feet diameter, with 24 buckets each, 17 feet face. 

Engines are driven by 8 steel boilers, each 28 feet long, 7 feet diame- 
ter of shells, containing 143 tubes, 4 inches diameter by 16 feet long. 
Total heating surface in 8 boilers, 19,640 square feet; grate surface, 288 
square feet, capable of driving engines with 2,000 horse-power each. The 
boilers are placed in pairs, on the guards, forward and abaft the paddle- 
boxes, connected with engines, so that one or all may be used at 

The engines are placed on the center line of the boat, fore and aft of 
the center of boat, 8 feet, making distance from center to center of shafts 
16 feet, and not placed abreast of each other, as in the usual manner. 
The object of this arrangement is to give room on deck for four tracks— 


and each wheel being driven by an independent engine, enables the boat 
to be more easily handled in entering slips. 

Among other novelties in her construction are four Pratt trusses, 
arranged fore and aft, directly under tracks, varied in size to meet the 
strains upon them. These give longitudinal stiffness, and connect the 
deck and bottom of the boat, making her in reality a huge floating bridge. 
In addition there are eleven water-tight transverse bulkheads, dividing 
the hull into twelve compartments, rendering her absolutely secure from all 
danger of sinking, besides adding additional stiflhess to the boat. 

There are four balanced rudders at each end of boat, llj^ feet long 
by 514. feet deep, coupled together and worked by hydraulic steering gear, 
operated by independent steam-engines and pumps. The steering gear is 
connected also with steering wheels in the ordinary manner — the pilot 
houses being 40 feet above deck, affording the helmsman a clear view, fore 
and aft. 

There are four bridges running athwartship, and another fore and 
aft, connecting the pilot houses. Upon the deck are four tracks extend- 
ing the entire length, with capacity for 48 freight cars, with locomotive, 
or 24 passenger coaches of the largest class. 

The aprons connecting the boat with the slips at Benicia and Port 
Costa are each 100 feet long, with four tracks, so arranged that freight 
and passenger trains are run aboard without being uncoupled from the 
locomotive. The aprons weigh, each, 150 tons, and are Avorked by a com- 
bination of pontoons and counter-weights, by hydraulic power. 

In the hold of the boat are commodious quarters for the officers and 
crew; on deck, rooms for the transaction of railroad business. 


These form the only outlet for the entu-e water-shed of the 
Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the great basins of the Sacramento 
and San Joaquin Rivers, ^^'ith their tributaries, comprising an area 
of nearly thirty thousand square miles. This, therefore, from 
necessity, forms the only inland. Golden Gate-like entrance, for 
all vessels needed for the commercial wants of the interior, out- 
side and apart from the out-reaching railroad system of the State. 


Instead of crossing the Straits of Carquinez, however, we 
continue along its southern shore for some distance 3'et ; and in 
about three miles arrive at Martinez, the countv seat of Contra 



Costa County. This, believe me, is one of the prettiest agricult- 
ural villages in any country. A week among its vineyards, 
gardens, groves, and farms, will convince the most skeptical of 


this. Here, too, the beautiful live oak (Quercus agrifolia) and 
the gracefully drooping white oak (Q. lohata) add their inviting 
attractions to the landscape. This, moreover, is the avenue by 
which Pacheco and other valleys are reached, and where the 
native Calif ornians in early days enjoyed so many pastimes; 
which, like many of its people, have passed away forever. On 
this account I am tempted to briefly chronicle some of the most 


Like their Mexican prototypes, they are very fond of amuse- 
ments. They can endure any amount of enjoyment in ever}^ form, 
and at all times, and take as kindly to pleasure as though they 
were born to it. There is also another sympathetic characteris- 
tic between the two peoples — neither of them will do anything 
to-day in the form of work that they can, by any possibility, 
postpone until to-morrow. Mariana esta siempre huana (to- 
morrow is always good), where labor is concerned, because it 
never comes. On these accounts, mainly, every "saint's day," 
among these old settlers, was welcomed, because it brought a 


It used to be an interesting sight to watch these dusky- 
colored people issue from their humble, tile-roofed, adobe dwell- 
ings, in any of their dreamy towns, at sunrise, on any favorite 
saint's day, when the matin bell called to prayers. Then the 
sehoritas and senoras, dressed in the brightest of colors ; and the 
seiiores begirt themselves in the gayest of sashes ; and all walked, 
saunteringly, side by side, to the shadow-filled house of devotion 
where, with low musical chantings, solemn ceremonials (and equally 
solemn countenances) they knelt together in seeming worship. 

But no sooner was the church threshold recrossed than they 
felt "A change came o'er the spirit of my dream" -that almost 
amounted to an entire transformation ; the muttered response was 
eversed to a merry laugh, and the kneeling posture to a lively, 
light-footed skip. Now the arrangements for the day's enjoy- 
ments were freely discussed, and every preparation made for 
insuring a general holiday. Wayside stalls, laden with fruits, 
cakes, sweetmeats, toys, and general refreshments, would spring- 
up here and there; and be well patronized by juveniles, and 
friends that had come in from the neighboring ranches. 


Every native Californian is as much at home on a horse, 
with or without a saddle, as a Sandwich Islander is upon a surf- 
board when he plays upon the waves; and, as horses are their 
particular pride (even while they excessively abuse them when in 
passion), skill in riding is the most esteemed of all accomplish- 
ments. Associated with this, and of which it forms a part, is the 
love of display ; so that next to a beautiful animal the most costly 
of caparisons are preferred. A native Californian will, therefore, 
invest his last real (and go hungry) rather than forego the in- 
dulgence of expensive ornaments for his saddle, bridle, and spurs. 
And as horse-racing strikingly pro "ides him with the opportunity 
for exhibiting these to the best advantage before the fan sex, and 
his envious companions, he indulges it to infatuation. Scarcely 
secondary to this, and for the selfsame reasons, follows the popu- 
lar pastime of " snatching the rooster." 




As illustrated in the above engraving the body of the rooster 
is buried, so that nothino- but the head is visible above ground. 
All of those who are mounted, and whose are prancing and 
dancing, about sixty yards distant, are to take part in the sportr 
and are impatiently awaiting their turn. The moment the signal 
is given for the start, the impetuous and expectant rider sets 
spurs to his horse, and dashes out at the top of his speed ; and, 
when nearly opposite the would-be prize, he makes a dexterous 
swoop down to it; and, if he succeeds in clutching and unearth- 
ing the bird, he bears off the trophy in triumph, amid the applause 
of the concourse assembled. But, should he fail in the effort, as 
most frequently happens, he not only loses the favors he had 
looked forward to winning, but sometimes is unhorsed with 
violence, and dragged in the dust, at the risk of serious accident; 
and that, too, amid the derisive jeers and laughter of the spectators. 
Valuable horses, with their costly trappings, and sometimes large 
sums of money, and even ranches, are not infrequently staked 
upon the issue of " snatching the rooster." 

Another source of amusement among native Californians, and 
this also was intended to illustrate their dexterity in horsemanship. 


is to place a rawhide flat upon the ground; and, when the horse is 
galloping swiftly, to suddenly check him in the moment his fore- 
feet strike the hide. If, by any possibilit}^, the horse is allowed to 
cross this before stopping, the rider is berated most unmercifully 
for his lack of skill, especially if he should be unseated in the 
effort. But the greatest of all sources of gratification, to all classes 
and to both sexes, were the 


After the discovery of gold, and before their grounds were 
acquired and much settled up by Americans, these people took 
increased delight in the cruel and dangerous recreation of bull- 
baiting, and bull and bear fighting, until 1852, when it was 
frowned down by the public, and prevented by the authorities. 
On one occasion thousands of persons had collected, in one of our 
populous valleys, to witness one of these disgraceful exhibitions, 
when twelve bulls, two large grizzly bears, and a considerable 
number of Indians were engaged at different times. In the second 
day's encounter four Indians and one horse were killed; and 
while the sharp horns of the infuriated bull were goring their 
voluntary victims, the band would strike up a lively tune to 
smother their cries and moans. Fortunately these, with cock- 
fighting and other debasing amusements, have, let us hope, for- 
ever ended, as they have been superseded by those which are 
progressive and refining. 

The native Californians, with their half-dreamy and semi- 
religious teachings, seemed to have been a compromise between 
barbarism on the one hand and the sesthetical refinement of 
progress on the other; and, owing to their easy, " go-as-you-please " 
temperaments, and manners, have been despoiled, and sharply 
elbowed off' the track in the great race of life, with a few tena- 
cious and plucky exceptions; and, wdth their customs, for the most 
part, been retired into the irretrievable past. 

Leaving the county seat of Contra Costa behind us, with the 

rolling hills that surround it, we emerge into an open eountrv 


studded with farms that skirt the base of an imposing mountain 
on our right, known to tlie workl as 


Whether we are walking on the streets of San Francisco, or 
sailing on our bays and navigable rivers, or riding on the roads 
in the Sacramento or San Joaquin Valleys, or standing on the 
elevated ridges of the Sierras ; in lonely boldness, at almost every 
turn, Monte Diablo stands prominently out as the great land- 
mark of Central California. 

Viewed from the northwest or southeast, it appears to have 
a double crown, with two elevated crests that are about three 
miles apart. The southwestern is the higher, with an elevation 
of three thousand eight hundred and fifty feet above sea level. 
From this lofty standpoint the country is spread out before you 
like an immense map, covering an estimated area of forty thou- 
sand square miles of land, and forming one of the most remark- 
able panoramas (;ver viewed by liuman eyes. To describe this in 
detail would of itself fill a volume. It is presumed that its 
name-givers, the early padres, having climbed it, and looked 
around upon its unspeakable wonders with awe, recalled to 
memory that passage of holy writ from Matt. 4:8, 9: "The 
devil taketh him [Jesus] up into an exceeding high mountain, 
and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of 
them; and saith unto him. All these things will I give thee, if 
thou wilt fall down and worship me," and that this suggested 
the name. Without even attempting an outlirie of the glorious 
view pi'esented, let ine counsel you to pay the summit of IVionte 
del Diablo a visit, if you wish to revel in a scenic banquet, the 
memory of which will remain with you pleasantly forever. To 
accomplish this you leave the train at Martinez, and proceed to 
Clayton ; whence" you can ride to the very summit, by a fairly 
good road, and 1>ack again to Clayton, in a single day. 

For the purpose of surveying the State into a network of 
township lines, three "meridians," or initial points, wei-e estab- 


lished by the United States Survey, namely : Monte Diablo (Contra 
Costa County), Mount San Bernardino (San Bernardino County) 
and Mount Pierce (Humboldt County). Across the highest peaks 
of each of these a " meridian line" and a "base line" were run; 
the latter being from east to west, and the former from north to 
south. Of these three the Monte Diablo is by far the most com- 
prehensive, as it includes all the lands lying between the Coast 
Range and the Sierras, and from the Siskiyou Mountains to the 
head of the Tulare Valley. 

The geologic features of Monte Diablo are mainly primitive, 
although surrounded by sedimentary rock, abounding in marine 
shells. Near its summit gold-bearing quartz has been found in 
veins; on its western slope hornblende; and, in its numerous spurs, 
an inexhaustible supply of limestone. It is said that both copper 
and cinnabar ore has been found here, but with what truthfulness 
has not been determined. At the eastern base of Monte Diablo sev- 
eral veins of coal have l)een found, but this being strongly impreg- 
nated with sulphur, has been used, principally, for steamboats. 

The canons of this mountain are lined with stunted oak, and 
pines; and wild oats and chaparral, alternately, grow from base 
to summit. In the fall season, when the herbage and dead bushes 
are perfectly dry, the Indians have sometimes set portions of the 
surface on fire, and when the breeze is fresh, and the night dark, 
the lurid flames leap, and curl, and sweep, now to this side and 
now to that, and present a spectacle magniticent beyond the power 
of language to express. 

But as time forbids a longer tarrying here, for the present at 
least, let us ride onward past farms, with cattle and horses on 
either side the track; shoot under tramways from the Monte 
Diablo coal mines at Cornwall and Antioch; and, before long, 
arrive at Tracy, where the Western Division of the Central Pa- 
cific Railroad forms a junction with the main line. But a short 
time will elapse before crossing the San Joaquin River (which 
obtains its waters from the living glaciers of Mount Ritter, the 
Minarets, and other lofty peaks of the main chain of the Sierra 


Nevada Mountains) and, continuing about three miles beyond, 
we arrive at 


Here tiie trunk, or main line, forms a junction with its diverg- 
ing branches, both north and south. This station — named in 
honor of Mrs. Leland Stanford (wife of Governor, now United 
States Senator Stanford, one of the founders and builders of the 
Central Pacific Railroad, and continuously its president) whose 
maiden name was Lathrop — from its establishment, has always 
been a general stopping-place for refreshments; and, when ap- 
proaching it, you will still hear some resonant voice announce, 
"Lathrop — twenty minutes for meals." In recent years an oppo- 
sition gong has rung out its unmusical clang, to tell to the hun- 
gry that there are other places at Lathrop, besides the station, 
where the hungry can be fed. Here, also, are workshops, engine 
houses, surplus cars, and all the usual paraphernalia of a central 
depot; so that " extras" of every kind needed in railroad trans- 
portation can be furnished without the least unnecessary delay. 
Railway officers, w^ith their assistants, naturally make this quite 
a lively station ; and, w^hen the trains arrive wdth their passen- 
gers, all is bustle and excitement. Within the past few. years this 
has ffrown somewhat into an agricultural settlement, which, with 
the conveniences needed by railway employes, has changed its 
formerly sleepy and forsaken look to one of wide-awake busi- 
ness prosperity, that augurs well for its future development and 

If we are bound for Yo Semite via Modesto, Merced, Berenda, 
or Madera, we keep our seats in the car ; but, if our ticket pro- 
vides for entering the great Valley via Stockton, Milton, and the 
Calaveras Big Trees, or Milton direct, we change both ourselves 
and our baggage to the Stockton train. For particulars concern- 
ing routes beyond Lathrop, the reader is referred to one or other 
of succeeding chapters so that he may obtain the information de- 
sired on the one he has decided to take. 



Breathe soft, ye winds! ye waves, in silence sleep. 

— Gay. 

You know I say 
Just what I think, and nothing more or less,' 
And, when I pray, my heart is in my prayer. 
I cannot say one thing and mean another: 
If I can't pray, I will not make believe! 

— LoKGFELLOW's Christus, Pt. III. 

The fall of waters and the song of birds. 

And hills that echo to the distant herds, 

Are luxuries excelling all the glare 

The world can boast, and her chief favorites share. 

— Cowper's Retirement. 

About t^TO hundred yards northerly of the Market Street 
Wharf lies that of Washington Street, whence sail the San 
Joaquin River steamboats bound for Stockton, on the Milton, 
Calaveras Big Tree, and Big Oak Flat routes to Yo Semite, with 
other destinations. If the freight is all aboard, they sail at five 
o'clock P. M. ; but, if not, they generally delay starting until it is. 
As at the Market Street Wharf, the scene here is full of excite- 
ment, and of positive interest, although not partaking, altogether, 
of the same characteristics. The former is quiet and methodical; 
while this is irregular, and somewhat contentious ; owing to the 
established rivalry between the two lines. Each has its friends ; 
and both employ their own advocates. Eagerness to possess pas- 
sengers, at any cost of eloquence, or of tact, is of more moment- 
ous consideration, at this juncture, than any rules of ordinary 
courtesy, or of personal convenience. But, once on board either 
of the boats, you are safely delivered from that vortex of conten- 
tion, and peace reigns supreme. Polite attention places you entirely 



at your ease; and, if the war of words is still raging below, it only 
becomes a source of amusement, to beguile the otherwise wearying 
moments of waiting. This, however, is of short duration, as 
orders are soon given by the captain to " Take in the plank," 
' ■ Cast off your lines ; " and, just as we are about to move out from 
the wharf, there is almost sure to be one or more passengers that 
have arrived, just too late to get aboard; and who, in their excite- 
ment, often throw their overcoat, or valise, or other articles on 
the boat (or overboard), yet neglect the only opportune moment of 
getting oh themselves; and, consequently, are not only left be- 
hind, but are separated from their baggage ; and which, perhaps, 
contains the only treasures they possess on earth I Not inconsid- 
erately of this, let us hope, 


Who, at such a season, does not recall the peaceful calm that 
uninvitedly steals over the spirit the very moment the boat has 
cast off her moorings, and sails out upon the placid waters of the 
Bay? All of the fatigues and wearying cares of the few last 
hours ashore — and something, kept to the last, is almost sure to 
go unaccomplished— are left, with it, behind; and, for the time 
being at least, are merged into absolute forgetfulness. Now 
comes the season of bewitching, perfect, unrestrained composure, 
as calm as the brine over which we are gliding. At such a be- 
fitting time for impressions, anid mood for enjoyment, every object 
presenting itself reveals to us an exalted interpretation. The 
golden sheen of the setting sun, as it lights up the pathway of 
commerce through the Golden Gate, seems brighter and more 
golden as we pass it. Even the fog-banks that sometimes roll 
through the Golden Gate, in summer, have silvery edges; and the 
haze that drapes each mountain height, or dreamily sleeps in 
far-off canons, is of a more ethereal purple when we thus prepar- 
edly commune with nature's mysterious wonders. Now we are 
sailing past, let us take 



There is a peculiarly seductive charm that stealthily yet 
feelingly carries one into the far dreamy past, as he looks upon 
this scene; and recalls old-time memories, when this was almost 
the only entrance to the land of gold. How" revertingly the sight 
again brings into review the golden-winged hopes, and heart-throb- 
bing yearnings of the many who entered, or wished to enter, its 
charmed portals, "in days of auld lang syne," and make it the 
admission gate to fame and fortune; but who, perhaps, after com- 
ing through it, spent years of unremitting and unrequited toil; 
and yet hoped, aye, longed, to pass through it once again, to 
that place still endearingly called " home " — 

" That spot of earth, by love supremely blest, 
A dearer, sweeter spot, than all the rest," 

With a chastened sadness in the heart, because they had hoped and 
yearned in vain. But to those whom success had crowned with 
its exhilarating laurels, how exultingly — and let us hope grate- 
fully — welcome was their homeward passage through the Golden 
Gate; to share their fortunes with beloved ones, who, perhaps, had 
long been expectantly awaiting their return. 

Many have supposed that the origin and meaning of the 
name given to this entrance to the Bay of San Francisco was sug- 
gested by the staple mineral of the country, gold. This is an 
error, as it was called "The Golden Gate " before the precious 
metal was discovered. It was probably used for the first time 
in a work entitled " A Geographical Review of California," by 
Col. J. C. Fremont, published, with a map, in New York, 
February, 1848 ; and as gold was discovered on the 19th of January 
preceding, the news could not have reached the office of publica- 
tion, in those days, in time to influence this nomenclature. It 
is true there "may have been" some "spiritual telegrams" (!) 
sent to the author of the name, Col. J. C. Fremont, telling him of 
the glorious dawn of a golden day that had broken upon the 
world by the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill, Coloma, and thus 
become suggestive of the golden age, about to be inaugurated, and 



of the name. Its real origin was owing to the excessively pro- 
ductive lands of the interior, especially those around the Bay of 
San Francisco. From whatever source the name " Golden Gate " 
has sprung, its characteristic appropriateness will be unhesitatingly 


conceded. Having dwelt somewhat at length upon the name, 
let us now briefly describe the place. 

The Golden Gate, then, is the only entrance by sea to the 
land-locked and magnificent harbor of San Francisco. It is 
situated in the narrowest part of the channel, between Fort Point 
and Lime Point. Its width is one thousand, seven hundred and 
seventy-seven yards. Here the tide ebbs and flows at the rate of 
about six knots an hour, and rises or falls some seven feet. The 
center of the Gate is in longitude 122°30'' from Greenwich. 
Through this flows the drainage of all the rivers from the High 
Sierra, entering the valleys of the Sacramento and San Joaquin, 
as well as from several tributaries of the Coast Range. It has 



dt^pth sufficient to float, safely, ships of the heaviest tonnage. 
Even the circular sand-bar at its entrance, seven miles in length, 
offers no obstacle to this, even at low tide; except, possibly, -when 
the wind is blowing heavily from the northwest, west, or south- 
east; then it is scarcely safe for a vessel of the largest class to 
cross it at low tide. On the south side of the Golden Gate is Point 
Lobos (Wolves Point), from whence vessels at sea are signaled ; 
and on the northern. Point Bonita, upon which is a light-house ; 
while opposite Lime Point stands the frowning fort, Winfidd 


You can see by its grim and defiant presence that it means 
business, when the order comes to "let loose the dogs of war." It 
is four tiers in height, the topmost of which is sixty-four feet above 
low tide, and is capable of mounting one hundred and fifty guns 
— including a battery on the hill at its back — of forty-two, sixty- 
four, and one hundred and twenty-eight pounders, besides rifled 


cannon of improved pattern. During an engagement, two tiiou- 
sand four hundred men can be accommodated here. 

There is a light-house adjoining the Fort, that can be seen 
for some ten or twelve miles outside ; connected with which is a 
fog-bell weighing eleven hundred pounds, that is worked bj' 
machinery, and strikes five consecutive taps ten seconds apart; 
then has an intei-mission of thirty-four seconds, when it re-com- 
mences the ten-second strike. This is carried on continuously in 
foggy weather. 

At a convenient distance from Fort Point is the Presidio, 
which is the residence and head-quarteis of both officers and men 
for this militaiy district. Others are stationed at Point San Jose, 
formerly called Black Point. To outline these even, with their 
maneuverings, music, life, etc., would detain us too long; but it 
is hoped that this "mere mention" will induce you to pay each 
one or these a visit, to see and enjoy them at your leisure, upon 
your return. 

But as the keel of our boat is speedily cutting its way 
through the water, we pass Alcatraz and Angel Islands ; obtain 
glances of the snug little towns of Saucelito and San Rafael, 
catch a hasty sight of the State Prison at San Quentin ; and, 
almost before we realize it, are opposite a gaudily stratified island 
known as 


This bright-colored little island was formerly called Treasure, 
and, in old charts. Golden Rock, from a traditionary report 
circulated that vast treasures had been buried there, by pirates 
and old Spanish navigators. Such stories were always sufficiently 


stimulating" to indiieo tin.' seiui-deniented adventuixT, and dime 
novel reader, to attempt the securing of wealth with as little exer- 
tion as possible of his own. Hence the representative " treasure 
hunter " found occupation here, and, as elsewhere, went unre- 
"svarded for his ]>ains. 

It is now exclusively called " Red Rock," being composed of 
numerous strata, of an (endless variety of colors, the prevailing one 
being- red. There is an article found here that sti'ikingly re- 
sembles one sometimes found upon a lady's toilet table (in early 
days, of course) known as rouge-powder (exclusively monopolized 
in these modern times by the theatrical profession). Besides this 
there are several veins of decomposed rock resembling clay, or 
pigment, from four to twelve inches in thickness, and from steel- 
gray to bright red in color. Upon the beach small rod pebbles, 
resembling carnelian, are found in aluuidance. But on, on we 
sail ; passing Maria Island, and 

THE TWO .Sl.STEi;.-^ 

Both of which are covered wdth sea-birds, that seem to hv taste- 
fully and gracefully busy pluming their feathers; and who luakf 
this their roosting places at night, no matter where they may 
have wandered daring the day. 

Just beyond these we shoot by San Pablo Point (which juts 
out from the mainland) and enter the placid waters of the bay of 
San Pablo. The distant hills, wdth their lights and shadows, 
and varied verdure, encompassing us, are not less attractive upon 
water than on land for they seem to charm us into forgetfulness 
of the fact that, almost before w^e realize it, the hills are closing 
in upon us, and we are rapidly 




The Straits of Carquinez connect the bays of San Pablo and 
Suisun ; and, as mentioned in the foregoing chapter, are the only- 
outlet for all the interior waters of the great basin of the Sacra- 
mento and San Joaquin Rivers, with all their tributaries. Our 
course lies through these straits; but, just before entering them, on 
our left-hand, we obtain a distant view of the Government 
Works at Mare Island, and the town of Vallejo; and, as we sail 
onward towards the hills, the impression comes, almost irresistibly, 
that we are certainly running into the bluffs ahead of as, and into 
trouble at the same time; but a slight deviation in our course, at 
just the right turn in the channel, proves that the knowledge and 
skill of the captain are suj)erior to our own — which may be a little 

When safely passing the narrowest part of the channel, we 
seem to be meeting "the leviathan of the deep," or some other 



huge monster that is coming- down fearlessly upon us, and is 
about to swallow us up, as Jonah swallowed the whale (?); but 
just as we might suppose it to be opening its immense mouth for 
one easy effort, it shoots to one side (as we do to the other) as 
much as to say, " You needn't be afraid of me, I am only the 
C P. R. R. transit boat Solano, on my way from Benicia to Port 




It would detain us too long to tell of the many interesting 
places to visit at Benicia — once the capital of the State — or the 
objects worthy of notice at Army Point, and Martinez (briefly 
outlined in the last chapter) ; so, if you please, we will regretfully 
pass these, just as the moonlight is silv^ering the waters of 


This, with its numerous islands (almost level with the surface at 
high water), is nearly as large as the bay of San Pablo. At one 
time, "in the uninterpretable past," it must have resembled a 
small inland sea, inasmuch as the broad expanse of the tule lands, 
now covering several thousands of square miles, once formed a 
portion of the bay. An apparently interminable sea of tules 
extends nearly one hundred and fifty miles northeasterly up the 
valley of the Sacramento, and for more than half that distance 
southerly, up the valley of the San Joaquin, with an average 
width of thirty miles; and as nearly all of this land is overflowed 
durino- hiah water there can be but little doubt of its once hav- 
ing formed an immense lake. 





Deriving- its main source from the living glaciers of Mt. 
Rittci-, the Minarets, and other lofty peaks of the High Sierra, 
whence • it hurries rapidly to the plains, but runs sluggishly 
through these tules, and forms one of the most serpentine of all 
rivers out-of-doors. It is navigable for somewhat commodious 
steamboats and large schooners to Stockton, and some seventy 
miles beyond for smaller craft. It makes its dehouchitre into the 
bay of Suisun just above Cornwall and Antioch, landings for the 
Monte Diablo coal mines. 


Were we passing this earlier in the day, the scene would pos- 
sibly be enlivened by the sight of sundry small boats, and men 
engaged in salmon fishing, which still forms quite an impor- 
tant industry here, and at the junction of the Sacramento River 
with the Bay of Suisun; interesting, however, as it might be to 
lingtr here, and watch the Tnodvti operandi of taking in this 
valuable fish, we must now forego it. 




After touching at the latter settlements for the disembarka- 
tion of passengers and cargo, we are soon sailing upon the turbid 
waters of the San Joaquin. But for the oversliadowing mountain 
of Monte Diablo, whose omnipresence still asserts itself here as 
elsewhere, the scenery would prove to be very uninteresting. 
But, as the evening is calm (and sultry, perhaps) the mosquitoes 
may offer a little divertisement ; as, possibly, this may be their 
harvest season; and, as a consequence, a large representation may 
be out, on a free-booting excursion. Now, although their harvest- 
home song may be very musical to those who can enjoy its feel- 
ing refrain, it becomes penetratingly evident to any disinterested 
observer, that but few persons on board seem to have an appreci- 
ative ear for their music ! In order, however, to show that they 
have no idea of being overlooked, or neglected, the mosquitoes take 


real pleasure in impi'essing' their embossed notes upon the hands, 
faces, or foreheads of all unwatchful sleepers — even though their 
slumbers may have been involuntai'v from exhaustion, or in com- 
bating their musical enemies. While this unequal warfare is 
going on, and for one carcass slain a dozen mourners come to the 
funeral, we may as well do something more than fight these little 
bill-presenting, tax-collecting tormentors; so, please permit me to 
relate an incident that occurred, just as I was leaving my South- 
ern home, on the banks of the " Father of waters," the old Missis- 
sippi, in the spring of 1849: — 

A gentleman arrived from " Merry England," with excellent 
letters of introduction, and was at once admitted a member of oar 
family circle. Now, however strange it may appear, this gentle- 
man had never looked upon a live mosquito — there being no such 
insect in England — and as a sequence was as unfamiliar with a 
mosquito-net and its uses, as the average office-holder might be 
with politeness. The feivme de charge being unware of this, had 
omitted to call his attention to the arrangements there for pass- 
ing a comfortable night. In the morning, when he presented 
himself at the breakfast-table, his face was nearly covered with 
wounds from the enemy's proboscis; without seemingly noticing 
this, the lady of the house politely inquired if he had slept pleas- 
antly; " Ye-yes," he replied with some hesitation " ye-yes, tol-er- 
a-bly pleasant, the bed was sufficiently comfortable, but, a — <i — 
small — fly annoyed me somewhat." At this confession the 
assembled company could not refrani from a good hearty laugh, 
in which the English gentleman most cordially joined, although 
it was at his expense. The good-natured hostess, after duly sup- 
pressing her risibility, explained the uses and arrangements of 
the mosquito-bar, to insure comfort in mosquito-infested countries, 
to the entire satisfaction of her guest. But the sviall Jiy Avas a 
source of considerable mirthfulness in our social circles there for 
a long time afterwards. 

"Boxing the compass" in every conceivable direction, on a 

sea of tules; stopping here and slowing there, to avoid a jutting 


point of tales, or compass a bend of the circuitous river, upon 
which we are supposed to be sailing ; our attention is attracted by 
a bright light in the distance, accompanied by the startling infor- 
mation that 


To those who are unfamiliar with the water-plant, well known 
in California as the tule, or, more generally called, tides, a briefly 
outlined sketch may not be unacceptable, especially as the word 
is not to be found in " Worcester," or in " Webster Unabridged." 
Its botanical name is Scirpus palustris, var. Californica. In 
form and habit it resembles the eastern flag, with this differ- 
ence; the flag is flat, while the tule is round for two-thirds of its 
height, tapering to a point, and flattening as it tapers, like a 
sailor's needle. Although perennial in character, its growth is 
annual, and from six to twelve feet. Owing to the inexliaustible 
quantities and the vast area covered by this plant, efforts have 
not been wanting to press it into useful service ; for paper, encas- 
ing of bottles, life-preservers, underlying for carpets, etc., and, 
for lile-preservers it is worth four to one of cork. This, when 
closely interwoven and stretched upon a frame, then covered with 
pitch, is said to make a boat as light as a bark canoe. 

Let it be remembered that there are slightly elevated grounds, 
and islands, in this sea of tules, that are not only inhabited, but 
which are susceptible of high cultivation ; and are of marvelous 
productiveness, after the native plant is subdued ; from three to 
four crops a year having been harvested therefrom. An intelli- 
gent gentleman, well known to the writer, reliably informed him 
that, while gathering one crop of wheat, yielding sixty-five bushels 
to the acre, a neighbor of his was just sowing the adjoining lands; 
and harvested his crop in sixty days thereafter 1 One cultivator 
has six thousand acres of potatoes in a patch, on Roberts' 
Island. Most of the vegetables used in Stockton are procured 
from the tule lands. But from the uncertainties and dangers of 
occasional high water, these tule lands would become exceedingly 
valuable— and will be when a thoroughly efficient system of 
leveeing and drainage are adopted. 



And let us, if you please, suppose that a flood-proof protect- 
ive levee has been couvstructed around two hundred thousand 
acres of this productive land ; with drains, waste-gates, and every 
other contrivance to insure its being thoroughly done, at an 
estimated cost of 820,000, ()()(). Then let us, if yoii please, suppose 
that this area has been put into successful cultivation, and will 
yield sixty-five bushels to the acre, the total product for a single 
crop (and two can be easily raised) would be thirteen million 
bushels; which, at the low estimate of sixty cents per bushel, 
would aggregate S7, 800,000 annually, and of course would double 
that amount should two ci'ops be realized. 

But, while we have been talking, our steamboat has been 
drawing nearer and nearer to the conflagration, so that we can 
see the broad sheet of devouring blaze leaping into the air, and 
with tongue of flame licking up everything that is combustible, 
like a prairie on fire; and which, with the black smoke surging 
hither and thither, its edges and masses covered with a lurid glare. 




presents a scene of fearful grandeur, that becomes suggestive of 
some earthly pandemonium. In admiration, Ave forget the mos- 
quitoes, and even the discordant and hoarse shriek of the so-called 
"steam -whistle," that is now announcing our approach to a 

Whenever a dry season comes upon California the succulent 
pastures found here, by stock, supplies the needed forage. But 


as we are now at the junction of the Stockton Slough with the 
San Joaquin River, we proceed up the former for three miles, and 
are at the end of our voyage, and the wharf of the city of 



Anil those that paint them truest praise them most. 

— Addi.son's Campaiij)/. 

Thought is deeper than all speech; 

Feeling deeper than all thought; 
Souls to souls can never teach 

What unto themselves was taught. 

— C. P. C RANCH. 

So nature deals with us, and takes away 

Our playthings one by one, and by the hand 
Leads us to rest to gently, that we go, 

Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay. 
Being too full of sleep to understand 
How far the unknown transcends the what we know. 

— Longfellow's Nature. 

Having arrived at Lathrop by the main or trunk line of 
the Central Pacific Railroad, and having arranged to journey via 
the Calaveras Big Tree Route, we enter the train bound for Stock- 
ton ; and, the run being only some nine miles, it is very soon accom- 
plished. As the country is comparatively level, there is but little 
to excite interest, except to those who delight in pastoral loveliness, 
until we are near that city. Then the suburban residences, peep- 
ing out from between the umbrageous oaks, and the church spires 
towering above them, tell that we shall soon enter its hospitable 
precincts. Acting upon the suggestion made in a former chapter, 
" when it is possible not to be in a hurry," with your permission, 
we will allow the train to depart without us this morning, and 
take a stroll through 


This flourishing commercial city is advantageously situated 

at the head of a deep navigaV^le slough, or arm of the San Joaquin 



River, about three miles above its junction with that stream. 
The luxuriant foHage of its trees, the thrifty growth of its shrubs, 
and phxnts of ever}" kind, give voiceless commendation to its 
founders for choosing so desirable a situation. It is true that, as 
this was the head of navigation for all supplies needed in the 
proverbially rich gold mines of Tuolumne and Mariposa Counties, 
and intermediate points, it became a natural landing place; and, 
as such, was therefore suggestive of the suitability of this lo- 
cation for the building of a city. As a result, tents and cloth 
houses sprung up like mushrooms; but the fire of December 23, 
1849, entirely swept away the last vestige of this city of cloth, and 
destroyed other property to the value of over two hundred thousand 
dollars. Almost before its ruins had ceased smouldering, however, 
a new and cleaner city, composed of an admixture of cloth and 
wood, was erected in its place. In the following spring nearly 
all the cloth houses were superseded by wooden ones, and as this 
embrio city was now in steam communication with its base of 
supplies at San Francisco, assurance was given of its future 
stability and permanence, and justified the removal of wooden 
structures, and their replacement by those of brick. 

On the 30th of March, 1850, the first weekly newspaper was 
published by Messrs. Radclifie and White, conducted by Mr. John 
White — afterwards well known by newspaper men in the Bay 
City. On the same da}' the first theatrical performance was given 
in the Assembly Room of the Stockton House, by Bingham and 
Fury. The first election was held on the 13th of May following, 
the population at that early day numbering over two thousand. 
The Stockton Fire Department was organized June 20 (1850), 
and James E. Nuttman (afterwards associated with the fire de- 
partment of San Francisco) was elected chief engineer. On the 
25th of July, ensuing, Stockton was incorporated as a city. 
May 6, 1851, another fire swept away nearly every building, and 
destroyed property valued at a million and a half of dollars. 
Nothing daunted, a new city sprung up, Phoenix-like, from its 
ashes; and from that day to this the march of improvement has 





2i £ 

kept commensurate progress with the spirit 
of the age, and the requirements of its steady 
development. Owing to the general healthi- 
ness of its climate, and the convenience o ' 
its location, Stockton was chosen, by an Act 
of the Legislature of 1853, for the erection 
here of a State asylum for the insane; and 
this, with greatly enlarged accommodation, 
has been continued here ever since. 

One of the most striking features of the 
commerce of this city in early days, and one 
that well deserves to be commemorated, Avas 
the large number of heavily laden freight 
waoons that used to leave it for the mines. 
These, owing to their huge bulk and enor- 
mous carrying capacity, were, not inap- 
propriately, denominated " Prairie Schoon- 
ers," and "Steamboats of the Plains." 
They would average twenty-five thousand 
pounds per trip. The cost of wagons was 
from S900 to $1,100, and they were generally 
over twenty feet in length. Large mules, 
having the requisite strength, used to cost 
S350 each; and some, the finest and best, 
$1,400 per span. The main advantage of 
these large teams was the economy in 
teamsters, as one man could drive and tend 
as many as fourteen animals, always guid- 
ing them Avith a single line. They were 
drilled like soldiers, and were almost as 
tractable ; and when a teamster cracked his 
whip its report was like that of a revolver. 

The unusually large number of wind- 
mills are suggestive of the preferred method 


of irrigation and of water supply. Notwithstanding this, Stock- 
ton can boast of having 


It is one thousand and two feet deep, and throws out two 
hundred and fifty gallons of water per minute, or three hundred 
and sixty thousand gallons every twenty -four hours, and to the 
height of nine feet above the city grade. In sinking this well, 
ninety-six different strata of loam, clay, micacious sand, soft green 
sandstone, gravel, etc., etc., were passed through. Three hundred 
and forty feet from the surface, a stump of one of the big trees 
was found imbedded in the sand, from whence a stream of water 
issued to the top, although not in sufficient quantities to afford 
the supply desired, hence its continuance to the depth mentioned 
The temperature of the water was 77° Fahrenheit. 

The various strata bored through, indicate beyond question, 
that not only this, but nearly all other valleys were at one time 
inland lakes, that have been filled up and formed by the denuda- 
tion and lowering of the contiguous mountains, in the unrecorded 
ages of the far distant past. The siliceous sediment constantly 
floating down all our rivers, especially during high water, is in- 
controvertible proof that continuous denudation is still an active 
force in lowering mountains, and in forming valleys. 

It would make our advent here extremely interesting could 
we visit the tanneries, carriage factories, agricultural implement 
manufactories, canning establishments, the two flouring mills, 
woolen and paper mills, schools, free library, etc., not omitting the 
State asylum for the insane, which M'ould be found a model of 
cleanliness and good management. After this brief outline of 
Stockton and its attractions, with your permission we will now 
resume our journey. 

Almost before we are fairh^ seated in the car, we shoot out from 
the station at Stockton, leaving the Central Pacific Railroad, 
and taking the Stockton and Copperopolis Railroad for Milton; 
and as we are rolling out from among the tastefiil suburban 
residences of the city, under the gracefully pendant white oaks 


From San Francisco, via Laihrop, Stockton, Milton, Murphy' s, Calaveras Big 
Tree Grove, Sonora, Chinese Camp, and Big Oak Flat, to Yo Semite Valley. 

Stations marked (a) are stopping places at night for stage passengers; those marked {b) are 
hotels, or where meals can be had; those marked (c) are where hay and j;rain are obtainable; 
those marked id) are stage stations. 


Distances in ISIiles 

•o % 

By Railivay. 

From San Francisco to — 
Lathrop, junction of the Centra' Pacific with the Southern Pa 

cific Railroad (^ o 

Stockton, on Central Pacific Railroad (a b c) . . 

Milton, on the Stockton and Copperopolis Railroad {bed) 

By Carriage Road. 

From Milton to — 

Reservoir House {be) 

Gibson's Station (bed) 

Altaville (i^ (t) 

Murphy's {bed) 

Half-way H ouse {be) 

Calaveras Big Tree Grove Hotel {abed) 

Half-way House, returning (i^ e) 

Murphy's (a (5 c d) 

Vallecito (iJ c) 

Trail to Nat ural Bridge 

Parrott's Ferry, Stanislaus River. . _ 

Gold Spring 

Columb a {be) 

Sonora (3 erf) 

Chinese Cimp {abed) 

Priest's Hotel — for full details see "Big Oak Flat Route" {abed) 

Tuolumne B'g IVee Grove . 

Leidig's Hotel, Yo Semite Valley (« <f> c rf) 

Cook' . Hotel, Yo Semite Valley (abed) 

Barnard's Hotel, Yo Semite Valley (a b e d) 

94- 03 


22 50 
65 00 

70- 59 





102. 19 









107. II 
81 .04 

50- 34 





By railway 133.05 miles. 

By carriage road ^52.53 

Total distance 2S5.5S miles. 


(Q. lohata), and past the fertile farms of this portion of the valley 
of the San Joaquin, a quiet, gentlemanly person, whose name is 
Mr. Robert Patton, politely introduces himself to us by inquiring, 
" May I ask what is your proposed destination, beyond Milton? 
I am the agent for the different stage lines leaving there for all 
the various points beyond." Receiving satisfactory replies, 
our names are entered on the way-bill; and, upon arrival at 
Milton, we find a row of stages backed up against the platform, 
and awaiting us; with every coachman on his box, and the reins 
in his hand, ready for the start, the moment Mr. Patton gives 
him the signal. As we are sujjposed, on this occasion, to have 
chosen the route via the Calaveras Big Ti-ee Groves, the agent 
has seen that ourselves and baggage are safely placed upon the 
Murphy's stage. Murphy's being en route ior that point, when 
" All set " is shouted to tlie coachman, and away we go. 

As every one knows, the most desirable of all ulaces on a 
stage coach is that known as the "box-seat." This is with 
the coachman; for, if he is intelligent, and in a good humor, he 
can tell you of all the sights by the way ; w^ith the personal history 
of nearly every man and woman you may meet ; the qualities and 
"points " of every horse upon the road; with all the adventures, 
jokes, and other good things he has seen and heard during his 
thousand and one trips, under all kinds of circumstances, and in 
all sorts of weather. In short, he is a livdng road-encyclopedia, 
to be read and studied at intervals, by the occupant of the "box- 

You saw that look and motion of the coachman's head? That 
was at once a sign of recognition and of invitation to the privileged 
seat at his side, as we are old acquaintances. But, as you are a 
stranger, and as every excursion of real pleasure — like the happiest 
experiences of social life — become dependent to a very great ex- 
tent upon little courtesies and kindnesses, that cost nothing, we 
will, if you please, set the good example of foregoing selfishness 
by trying to secure that Seat for you. No thanks are needed, as 
every pleasure is doul)led by being shared. Now, suppose that 


you are the occupant of the "box-seat," we will make one sug- 
gestion — invite the driver to accept one of your best cigars; and, 
as its smoke and fragrance are rising on the air, he will gradually 
soften to you, and both will become bettei* acquainted before you 
have traveled far. 

There is a feeling of jovial, good-humored pleasurableness that 
steals insensibly over the spirit when the secluded residents of 
cities leave all the cares of a daily routine of duties behind, and 
the novelty of fresh scenes forms new sources of enjoyment. 
Especially is it so when seated comfortably in an easy-going coach ; 
with the prospect before us of witnessing many of the most won- 
derful sights to be found in any country, either in the Old or New 
World ; and, more especially, if we have learned to take a journey, 
as it is said that a Frenchman does his dinner, thereby enjoying it 
three tiva^'S,] first, in anticipation; second, in participation; and 
third, on retrospection! 

For several miles before arriving at Milton, as for two or 
three beyond, the entire country is covered with sedimentary de- 
posits, and water-washed gravel ; and, as there are no such ele- 
mental forces at work in the present day, they offer conjectural 
revelations of very different conditions in the past, while being- 
suggestive of pertinent inquiries for the time and cause of change. 

It is over these, for the most part treeless and rolling hills, 
that our road now lies. It is true there is one clump of white 
post oaks (Quercus Douglasii) about half a mile from Milton; 
remarkable only for its being the favorite resort of a species of 
bird, somewhat scarce in California, known as the magpie. 
Leaving the gravelly hills, we enter upon a graded road up a deep 
ra^■ine, where shrubs and trees begin to add an interest to the 
landscape. At the top of the hill we reach the Reservoir House 
(so named from a large reservoir near, built for mining purposes), 
where the horses rest, and where both man and beast take water, 
(the former, occasionally, something a little stronger). Here are 
seen the first pine trees (Pinus Sahiniana). 

Beyond this for many miles the country is gently undulating, 


yet is sparsely timbered with post oaks. At Gibson's Station 
horses are exchanged, and the hungry can eat. Five miles beyond 
this we find ourselves at Altaville ; a sprightly little mining- camp, 
in a gold-mining district, where we cross flumes and ditches, 
filled with water made muddy by washing out the precious metal, 
and where can be witnessed all the modus operandi of gold min- 
ing. Still our course is upward as well as onward, until we are 
over two thousand feet above sea level, and at 


Now, although the gold mines here have been among the 
richest. Murphy's was but little known, beyond its more immediate 
surroundings, until the discovery of the Big Tree Groves of Cala- 
veras (the first of this species ever found) ; and, more recently, the 
adjacent remarkable cave. Its proximity to, and the starting- 
point for, the new Avonders, lifted it into world-wide notoriety, 
almost at a bound. It is deserving of record, however, that the 
discovery of those enoi-mous trees must be credited, in a degree, 
to the business men of Murphy's, through whose enterprise, in- 
cidentally, they were first seen; as the sequel, obtained by the 
writer from the discoverer himself, will abundantly show: — 


In the spring of 1852, Mr. A. T. Dowd, a hunter, was em- 
ployed by the Union Water Company, of Murphy's, Calaveras 
County, to supply the workmen engaged in the construction of 
their canal, with fresh meat, from the large quantities of game 
running wild on the upper portion of their works. While engaged 
in this calling, having wounded a grizzly bear, and while industri- 
ously pursuing him, he suddenly came upon one of those immense 
trees that have since become so justly celebrated throughout the 
civilized world. All thoughts of hunting were absorbed and lost 
in the wonder and surprise inspired by the scene. " Surely," he 
mused, "this must be some curiously delusive di*eam!" But the 
great realities indubitably confronting him were convincing 


proof, beyond question, that they were no mere fanciful crea- 
tions of his imagination. 

Returning to camp, he there related the wonders he had 
seen, when his companions laughed at him ; and even questioned his 
veracity, which, previously, they had considered to be in every 
way reliable. He affirmed his statement to be true ; but they still 
thought it " too big a story " to believe, supposing that he was 
trying to perpetrate upon them some first-of- April joke. 

For a dav or two he allowed the matter to rest ; submittinsr, 
with chuckling satisfaction, to their occasional jocular allusions 
to " his big tree yarn," but continued hunting as formerly. On 
the Sunday morning ensuing, he went out early as usual, but 
soon returned in haste, apparently excited by some great event, 
when he exclaimed, " Boys, 1 have killed the largest grizzly bear 
that I ever saw in my life. While I am getting a little something 
to eat, you make every preparation for bringing him in; all had 
better go that can possibly be spared, as their assistance will cer- 
tainly be needed." 

As the big tree story was now almost forgotten, or by com- 
mon consent laid aside as a subject of conversation; and, moreover, 
as Sunday was a leisure day, and one that generally hangs the 
heaviest of the seven on those who are shut out from social or 
religious intercourse with friends, as many Californians unfortu- 
nately were and still are, the tidings were gladly welcomed, es- 
pecially as the proposition was suggestive of a day's intense 

Nothing loath, they were soon ready for the start. The 
camp was almost deserted. On, on they hurried, with Dowd as 
their guide, through thickets and pine groves ; crossmg ridges and 
canons, flats, and ravines, each relating in turn the adventures 
experienced, or heard of from companions, with grizzly bears, and 
other formidable tenants of the mountains, until their leader came 
to a halt at the foot of the immense tree he had seen, and to them 
had represented the approximate size. Pointing to its extraordi- 
nary diameter and lofty height, he exultingly exclaimed, " Now, 

216 IjV the heart OF THE SIERRAS. 

boys, do you believe my big tree story? That is the large grizzly 
I wanted you to see. Do you now think it a yarn?" By this 
ruse of their leader all doubt was changed into certainty, and 
unbelief into amazement; as, speechless with profound awe, their 
admiring gaze was riveted upon those forest giants. 

But a short season was allowed to elapse before the trumpet- 
tongued press proclaimed abroad the wonder; and the intelligent 
and devout worshipers, in nature and science, flocked to the Big- 
Tree Groves of Calaveras, for the purpose of seeing for themselves 
the astoundino- marvels a1;)Out which they had heard so much. In 
a subsequent chapter will be found full particulars concerning the 
naming, habits, characteristics, and comparative area of this 
species, to which the reader is referred. 


Leaving the mining village of Murphy's behind, we pass 
through an avenue of trees ; and, about half a mile from town, 
enter a narrow canon, up which we travel, now upon this side of 
the stream, and now on that, as the hills proved favorable or other- 
wise, for the construction of the road. If our visit is supposed to 
be in spring or early summer, every mountain-side, even to the 
tops of the ridges, is covered with flowers and flowering shiubs of 
great variety and beauty ; while, on either hand, groves of oaks 
and pines stand as shade-giving guardians of personal comfort. 

As we continue the ascent for a few miles our course becomes 
more undulating and gradual ; and, for the most part on the top or 
gently sloping sides of a dividing ridge; often through dense 
forests of tall, magnificent pines that are from one hundred and 
seventy, to two hundred and twenty feet in height; slender, and 
straight as an arrow. We measured one that had fallen, that 
was twenty inches in diameter at the base, and fourteen and a 
half inches in diameter at the distance of one hundred and 
twenty -five feet from the base. The ridges being nearly clear of 
an undergrowth of shrubbery; and the trunks of the trees, for 
fifty feet upward, or more, entirely clear of branches, the eye 


can wander, delightedly, for a long distance, among these capti- 
vating scenes of the forest. 

At different distances upon the route, the canal of the Union 
Water Company winds its sinuous way on, or around, the sides of 
the ridge ; or its sparkling contents rush impetuously down the 
water-furrowed center of a ravine. Here and there an aqueduct, 
or cabin, or saw mill, gives variety to an ever-changing landscape. 
When within about four and a half miles of the Mammoth Tree 
Grove, the surrounding mountain peaks and ridges are boldly 
visible. Looking southeast, the uncovered head of Bald Mount- 
ain silently announces its solitude and distinctiveness; west, the 
Coast Range of mountains forms a continuous girdle to the 
horizon ; extending to the north and east, where the snow-covered 
tops of the Sierras form a magnificent background to the glorious 

The deepening shadows of the densely timbered forest through 
which we are passing, by the awe they inspire, impressively in- 
timate that we are soon to enter the imposing presence of those 
forest giants, the Big Trees of Calaveras, and almost before we 
realize our actual neai-ness, we catch the invitino- gleam of the 
Calaveras Big Tree Grove Hotel. On our way to it, the carriage 
road passes directly between the 


Each of which is over three hundred feet in height, and the larger 
one of the two is twenty-three feet in diameter at the base. But 
as no one can thoroughly enjoy the wonderful, or beautiful, with 
a tired body, or upon an empty stomach, let us, for the present 
at least, prefer the refreshing comforts and kindly hospitalities of 
this commodious and well-kept inn, to a walk about the grove. 

According to Capt. Geo. M. Wheeler's U. S. Geographical 
Survey Reports, the Calaveras Big Tree Grove Hotel is 2,535 feet 
above Murphy's, and 4.730 feet above sea level. It stands in 
latitude 38° north, and in longitude 120° 10' west from Grei-nwich. 
The forest in which the Big Trees stand was so denselv timbered 


that many hundreds of trees had to be cut down " to let m a httle 
sunlight" to the hotel site. Here, in a gently sloping declivity, 
or hollow, of the main divide, separating San Antonio Creek on 
the north, and the north fork of the Stanislaus River on the south 
(two favorite troutiug streams), is located this remarkable grove. 
After refreshment and rest we are in better condition to 
examine the different objects of interest' that have attracted us 
hither. One thoug-ht, one feelino- one emotion, that of vastness, 
sublimity, profoundness, pervades the soul; for there, in awful 
presence — 

" The giant trees in silent majesty, 
Like pillars stand 'neatli Heaven's mighty dome. 
'T would seem that, perched upon their topmost branch, 
With outstretched finger, man might touch the stars." 

Within an area of about fifty acres there are ninety-three trees 
of large size, twenty of which exceed twenty-five feet in diameter 
at the base, and will consequently average about seventy-five feet 
in circumference. These would look still more imposing in pro- 
portions but for the large growth of sugar pine {Pinus Laniber- 
tiann), a.nd the yellow -pine (Pinus ponderosa). One of the lat- 
ter to the south westward of the hotel exceeds ten feet in diame- 
ter. But let us first take a walk to the 

BIG trp:e stump. 

This is the stump of the original Big Tree discovered by Mr. 
Dowd. We can see that it is perfectly smooth, sound, and level. 
Its diameter across the solid wood, after the bark was removed 
(and which was from fifteen to eighteen inches in thickness), is 
twenty-five feet ; although the tree was cut ofi" six feet above the 
ground. However incredible it may appear, on July 4, 1854, the 
writer formed one of a cotillion party of thirty -two persons, dancing 
upon this stump ; in addition to which the musicians and lookers- 
on numbered seventeen, making a total of forty-nine occupants of 
its surface at one time ! The accompanymg sketch was made at 
that time, and, of course, before the present pavilion was erected 
over it. There is no more strikingly convincing proof, in any 
^rove, of the immense size of the big trees, than this stump. 



This tree was three hundred 
and two feet in heiglit; and, at 
the ground, ninety -six feet in cir- 
cumference, before it was dis- 
turbed. Some sacrileoious van- 
dals, from the motive of making 
its exposition " pay," removed 
the bark to the height of thirty 
feet; and afterwards transported 
it to England, where it was 
formed into a room; but was 
afterwards consumed by fire, 
with the celebrated Crystal Pal- 
ace, at Kensington, England. 
This girdling of the tree very 
naturally brought death to it; 
but even then its majestic form 
must have perpetually taunted 
the belittled and sordid spirits 
that caused it. It is, however, 
but an act of justice to its pres- 
ent proprietor, Mr. James L. 
Sperry, to state that, although 
he has been the owner of the 
grove for over twenty years, that 
act of vandalism was perpe- 
trated before he purchased it, or 
it would never have been per- 

The next act in this botanical 
tragedy was the cutting down 
of the tree, in order to accom- 
modate those who wished to carry 
home specimens of its wood, as 
souvenirs of their ^•isit. But 
how to do this was the puzzling 



conundrum 1 If one could fittingly imagine so ludicrous a sight 
as a few lilliputian men attempting to clcop down this brobding- 
naggian giant, his contempt would reach its becoming climax. 
This, therefore, was given up as altogether too chimerical and im- 
practicable. Finall}', the plan was adopted of boring it of vnth 
pump-augers. This employed five men twenty-two days to 


accomplish ; and after the stem was fairly severed from the stump, 
the uprightness of its position, and breailth of its base, prevented 
its overthrow ; so that two and a half of the twenty-two days 
were spent in inserting wedges, and driving them into the butt of 
the tree, by logs suspended on ropes, thereby to compel its downfall. 
While these slow and apparently hopeless attempts were being 
undertaken, and the workmen had retu-ed for dinner, a gust of 
wind took hold of its top, and hurled it over without the least seem- 
ing efibrt; its fall causing the earth to tremble as by an earthquake. 
Thus this noble monarch of the forest was dethroned, after " brav- 
ing the battle and the breeze " for nearly two thousand years. 
Verily, how little real veneration does the average man possess. 




This was erected over the stump as a protection against the 
elements; for use on Sundays in public worship; and on week- 
day evenings for dancing, although I have heard ladies complain 
" that there was no ' spring ' to that floor! " Theatrical perform- 
ances and concerts have taken place upon it; and, in 1858, the 
Big Tree Bulletin was printed and published here. 

Near to the pavilion and stump still lies a portion of the 
prostrate trunk of this magnificent tree. Of course the butt-end 

Photo by J. C. Scripture. 



of the trunk is of the same diameter as the stump, where the 
auger marks make silent explanations of the method used in fell- 
ing it. 


Now, if you please, let us seek the dark recesses of this 
primeval forest, in spirit with uncovered head from reverential 
awe, feeling that we are entering the stately presence of trees 
that have successfully withstood the climatic changes, and storms, 
of more than thirty centuries. It is true that many of these 
grand old representatives of the dreamy past have been assailed 
by fire, and still proudly bear the marks of that resistless enemy ; 
although the new growth has, in many instances, sought to cover 
up the scars, and renew the vigorous youth of each, as much as 
possible. So Nature, like a gentle mother, neglects no opportu- 
nity to heal all wounds ; and, where that is impossible, covers up 
even deformity and decay with mosses or lichens. We can see 
that nearly every tree has a name (many most worthily given) 
and an individuality of its own ; that, like human faces, are sug- 
gestive of conflict with hidden forces, that have inscribed their 
characteristics in every line; and were we to pause at every 
one, and paint the peculiarities of each, I fear that it would 
prove a somewhat tedious task. If you please, then, we will pass 
to such as are most noteworthy. 

Among these once stood a most beautiful tree, graceful in 
form, and unexcelled in proportions; hence (as in human experi- 
ences) those very qualities at once became the most attractive to 
the eyes of the unfeeling spoliator. This bore the queenly name of 


In the summer of 1854, the bark was stripped from its trunk, 
by a Mr. George Gale, for purposes of exhibition in the East, to 
the height of one hundred and sixteen feet. It now measures 
in circumference, at the base, without the bark, eighty-four feet; 
twenty feet from base, sixty -nine feet ; seventy feet from base, 
forty-three feet six inches ; one hundred and sixteen feet from base. 


and up to the bark, thirty-nine feet six inches. The full circum- 
ference at base, including bark, was ninety feet. Its height -was 
three hundred and twenty-one feet. The average thickness of 
bark was eleven inches, although in places it was about two feet. 
This tree is estimated to contam five hundred and thirty-seven 
thousand feet of sound inch lumber. To the first branch it is 
one hundred and thu-ty-seven feet. The small black marks upon 
the tree indicate points where two and a half inch auger holes 
were bored, and mto these rounds were inserted, by which to ascend 
and descend while removing the bark. At different distances 
upward, especially at the top, numerous dates and names of visi- 
tors have been cut. It is contemplated to construct a circular 
stau'way around this tree. When the bark was being removed, 
a young man fell from the scaffolding — or, rather, out of a descend- 
ing noose — at a distance of seventy -nine feet from the ground, 
and escaped with a broken limb. The writer was within a few 
yards of him when he fell, and was agreeably surprised to dis- 
cover that he had not broken his neck. The accompan;ydng 
engraving, representing this once symmetrical tree, is from a 
daguerreotype taken in 1854, immediately after the bark was re- 
moved, and correctly represents the foliage of this wonderful 

genus, ere the vandal's 

' ' Effacing fingers 
Had swept the lines wiiere beauty lingers. " 

Now, alas! the noble "Mother of the Forest," dismantled of her 
once proud beauty, still stands boldly out, a reproving, yet magnif- 
icent ruin. Even the elements seemed to have sympathized with 
her, in the unmerited disgrace, brought to her by the ax ; as the 
snows and storms of recent winters have kept hastening her dis- 
memberment, the sooner to cover up the wrong. But a short 
distance from this lies the prostrate form of one that was probably 
the tallest sequoia that ever grew — 


This tree, when standing in its primitive majesty, is accred- 
ited with exceeding four hundred feet in height, with a circum- 

(321 feet in height. Si feet in circumference, without the bark). 



ference at its Ijase of one liuudred and ten feet; and, although 
limbless, without bark, and even much of its sap decayed and 
gone, has still proportions that once could crown him king of the 
grove. In falling, it struck against " Old Hercules," another old 
time rival in size, by which the upper part of his trunk was shiv- 
ered into fragments, that were scattered in every direction. While 
fire has eaten out the heart of "The Father of the Forest," and 
consumed his huge limbs, as of many others, the following meas- 
urements, recently taken, will prove that he was among the giants 
of those days, and, that " even in death still lives." From the 


Photo by J. C Scripture. 



roots, to where the center of the trunk can be reached on horse- 
back, it is ninety feet. The distance that one can ride erect 
through it on horseback is eighty-two feet six inches. Height of 
entrance, nine feet four inches ; of arch to floor, ten feet nine inches. 
Across the roots it is twenty-eight feet ; to where one would have 
an ide'a of standing to chop it down, twenty-three feet two inches ; 
ten feet from the roots its diameter is twenty feet eight inches; 
one hundred feet from roots, twelve feet one inch ; one hundred 
and fifty feet from roots, ten feet four inches , extreme length, to 
where any sign of top could be found, three hundred and sixty- 
five feet. 

But no one can approximately realize the immense proportions 
of this prostrate forest sire, without climbing to its top, and walk- 
ing down it for its entire length; by this, moreover, he will as- 
certain that it was nearly two hundred feet to the first branch. 
At the end of the burnt cavity within, is a never-failing spring 
of deliciously cool water. The handsome group of stately trees 
that encompass the " Father of the Forest," make it an imposing 
family circle ; and probably assisted in originating the name. 

And this is only one of the numerous vegetable giants that 
Time's scythe has laid low, for, near here, lies "Old Hercules," 
the largest standing tree in the grove until 1862, then being 
three hundred and twenty-five feet in height, by ninety-five 
feet in circumference, at the ground; this was blown down that 
year during a heavy storm; "The Miner's Cabin," three hundred 
and nineteen feet long by twenty-one in diameter, thrown over 
by a gale, in 1860; and " The Fallen Monarch," which has prob- 
ably been down for centuries. 


Consist of ten that are each thirty feet in diameter, and over 
seventy that measure from fifteen to thirty feet, at the ground. 
Were we to linger at the foot of every one, and indulge in 
the portrayal of all the characteristics, size, and peculiarities of 
t'ach, fascinating as they are when in their immediate presence, 


they would detain us too long from other scenes, and some 
that are especially inviting our attention ; such, for instance, as 


This stands about six miles southeasterly from the Calaveras 
Grove, and is, without doubt, the most extensive of any within 
the ordinary range of tourist travel ; as it contains one thousand 
three hundred and eighty Sequoias, ranging from one foot to 
thirty-four feet in diameter, and as the route thither is extremely 
picturesque, as well as varied and interesting, let us pay it a visit. 

Threading our way through a luxuriant growth of forest 
trees, with here and there a long vista, which conducts the eye to 
scenes beyond, and gives grateful leafy shadows, and occasional 
patches of sunlight on our path, about a mile from the hotel we 
reach the top of the Divide separating the Calaveras Grove from 
the north fork of the Stanislaus River. Here a remarkably fine 
view of the Sierras is obtained, one of whose peaks, the " Darda- 
nelles," is twelve thousand live hundred feet above sea level. By 
an easy trail, with all sorts of attractive turnings upon it, the 
north fork of the Stanislaus River is crossed. This is the divid- 
ing line between Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties, giving the 
South Grove to the latter county. This river, from the bridge, 
is a gem of beauty. Now we wind up to the summit of the 
Beaver Creek Ridge, and soon descend again to Beaver Creek 
(where the trout-fishing is excellent); and from this point wend 
our way to the lower end of the grove. Here the altitude above 
sea level is four thousand six hundred and thirty-live feet, and 
the upper end, four thousand eight hundred and twenty feet. 

The large number of these immense trees, from thirty feet to 
over one hundred feet in circumference, at the ground, and in 
almost every position and condition, would become almost bewil- 
dering were I to present in detail each and every one ; a few nota- 
ble examples therefore, will suffice, as representatives of the whole. 

The first big tree that attracts our attention, and which is 
seen from the ridge north of the Stanislaus River, is the " Colum- 
bus," a magnificent specimen, with three main divisions in its 


branches; and standing alone. Passing this we soon enter the 
lower end of the South Grove, and arrive at the " New York," 
one hundred and four feet in circumference, and over three hun- 
dred feet in height. Near to this is the " Correspondent," a tree 
of stately proportions, named in honor of the "Knights of the 
Quill." The "Ohio" measures one hundi-ed and three feet, and 
is three hundred and eleven feet in height. The " Massachusetts " 
is ninety-eight feet, with an altitude of three hundred and seven. 

Near to a large black stump, above this, stands a tree that is 
seventy-six feet in circumference, that has been struck by light- 
ning, one hundred and seventy feet from its base; where its top was 
shivered into fragments, and hurled in all directions for over a 
hundred feet from the tree ; the main stem being rent from top to 
bottom, the apex of this dismantled trunk being twelve feet in 
diameter. The " Grand Hotel " is burned out so badly that noth- 
ing but a mere living shell is left. This will hold forty persons. 
Then comes the "Canal Boat;" which, as its name implies, is a 
prostrate tree; the upper side and heart of which have been burned 
away, so that the remaining portion resembles a huge boat; in the 
bottom of which thousands of young big trees have started out in 
life; and, if no accident befalls them, in a thousand or two years 
hence, they may be respectable-sized trees, that can worthily take 
the places of the present representatives of this noble genus, and, 
like these, challenge the admiring awe of the intellectual giants of 
that day and age. 

"Noah's Ark" was anotlier prostrate shell that was hollow 
for one hundred and fifty feet; through which, for sixty feet, 
three horsemen could ride abreast ; but the snows of recent win- 
ters have broken in its roof, and blocked all further passage down 
it. Next comes the " Tree of Refuge," where, during one severe 
winter, sixteen cattle took shelter ; but subsequently perished from 
starvation. They found protection from the storm, but tlieir 
bleaching bones told the sad tale of their sufferings and death 
from lack of food. Near to this lies " Old Goliah," the largest 
decumbent tree in the grove ; whose circumference was over one 



hundred feet, and, when erect, was of proportionate height to the 
tallest. During the gale that prostrated " Hercules," in the Cala- 
veras Grove, this grand old tree had also to succumb. One of his 
stalwart limbs was eleven feet in diameter. 

There is another notable specimen, which somewhat forms 
a sequel to the above, known as 

Photo by J. C. Scripture. 

smith's cabin, 

On account of its having been the chosen residence of a trapper 
and old mountaineer named A. J. Smith — Andrew Jackson 
Smith — who made the charred hollow of this burnt-out tree his 
lonely home for three years. There is no telling what these old 
denizens of the mountains can or will do when thev have made 
up their minds to anything. The diameter of his cabin — which 


was to hiin a bedroom, sitting room, kitchen, and, sometimes, 
during stormy weather, a stable for his horse — was twenty -one 
feet by sixteen. Being one of the tallest, and consequently one 
of the most exposed, whenever the wind was upon one of its 
" high jinks," it seemed to take especial delight in playing, wan- 
tonly, with the top of this tree , so as to make it creak and tremble 
from stem to stern — not that it had any particular spite against 
its tenant — yet, upon such occasions, Smith would listen to its 
ominous music with a somewhat foreboding watchfulness, lest these 
pranks should be carried too far, and thus endanger his personal 
safety, as well as comfort. On one occasion a regular "south- 
easter " was on the rampage, hurling down trees, twisting off 
branches, tossing about tree-tops, and limbs, in all directions. As 
the old trapper dare not venture out, he sat listening, with un- 
questionable interest, to ascertain whether the wind or " Smith's 
Cabin " was becoming the better wrestler of the two. At this 
juncture, an earth-trembling crash came with nerve-testing force, 
that made his hair to stand on end, when he jumped to his feet, 
using certain empathio words (the synonyms of which can be 
found in "holy writ," or elsewhere), thinking, as he afterwards 
expressed it, "that it was all u-p with him." As this was the 
downfall of " Old Goliah," he began to fear that old Boreas 
was getting the best of the match, if he did not claim the gate- 
mone}^ and that " Smith's Cabin " would be the next giant thrown. 
But, being a brave man — and who could live such a life as his if 
he were not? — and knowing well that he could not do better, con- 
cluded to look this danger unquailingly in the face, as he had 
done many a one before it; stay where he was, and take the best, 
or worst, that might befall him. This proved Mr. A. J. Smith 
to be not only a hermit-trapper, but a philosopher as well. I am 
glad to say that this hero still lives, and makes himself both use- 
ful and entertaining, by acting as guide between the Calaveras 
and South Park O roves, and it would be difficult totind one more 
careful or more obliging. 

" Adam " and " Eve " we did not see, but were assured that 


the former has a cu'cumf erence of one hundred and three feet ; and 
that the latter was a fitting helpmate to Adam, at least in cor- 
relative magnitude, with breast-like protuberances seven feet in 
diameter, at an altitude of one hundred and fifty feet from the 

Before taking leave of the South Grove, it may he well to 
mention, that it is three and a half miles in length, situated in 
a beautifully formed, valley-like hollow, that not only contain 
the number of "big trees" already mentioned, but, like the Cala- 
veras Grove, has magnificent colonnades of other trees, such as 
the sugar pine (Pinus Lcvnibertiana); the two yellow pines 
(Pinus jjonderosa and P. Jeffreyi); three silver firs (Abies con- 
color, A. grandis and A. nobilis); the red spruce (A. Douglasi); 
the cedar (Libocedrus decurrens), with other genera; and an 
almost endless variety of beautiful shrubs and flowers. Indeed^ 
there is a richly supplied banquet, as endless in variety as it is 
unique in loveliness and grandeur, upon which appreciative minds 
can feast the whole of the ride. Upon the return a glimpse can 
be had, westwardly, of the Basaltic Cliff; and which forms the 
destination of one of the many enjoyable rides from the hotel. 

As we must soon bid a pleasant adieu to the Calaveras 
Groves, before saying our parting "good -by," it may be well to 
state that the " Calaveras " and " South Groves " are both owned 
by Mr. James L. SpeiTy, who is also the proprietor and landlord 
of the Calaveras Grove Hotel ; and who has the good fortune of 
unitino- the attentive considerations of " mine host," with the in- 
tuitive qualities of a gentleman — not always met with when 
traveling. And, for the information of the public, I most unre- 
servedly state that here will be found a good table, cleanly accom- 
modations, polite service, and reasonable charges; to which I 
deem it my duty to add, that the air is pure and invigoi-ating ; 
the climate exhilarating and renewing ; and the trout-fishing in 
adjacent streams most excellent. Months should be spent here 
instead of a few brie fj ypurs. or days. 

Now, if you piease, in the quiet of the evening, we will 


return to Murphy's; and, after we have had a good dinner, and a 
brief rest, will visit 


This, believe me, is one of the greatest natural curiosities of 
this section. It is situated about a mile from town, and can be 
reached either by carriage or afoot ; and, moreover, can be seen as 
well by night as by day. 

The moment it is entered, intense darkness envelops you 
like a mantle ; so that even the candles, carried by visitors, seem 
barely sufficient to more than "make darkness visible." Soon, 
however, the eyes become adjusted to the circumstances, and 
objects become more or less recognized, although indistinctly at 
first, then to reveal themselves more clearly to our astonished 

The first chamber reached is about two hundred feet from 
side to side, its roof stretching far upward into semi-darkness 
some seventy or eighty feet ; and, like the side wall, is slightly 
curvilinear in form, and at an angle of about 50*^. Its uneven 
sides are partially covered with grotesquely formed stalactites, in 
masses, closely resembling white fungus. Some hang pendent, 
like icicles that have run into each other, and broadened as they 
formed ; yet are suspended, in some instances, by a slender, tape- 
like stem, that one would expect to be broken almost by a breath. 
From among the seams of the rock overhead hang slender 
bunches of dark chocolate-colored moss, that are from ten to 
sixteen feet in length. 

Proceeding downwards, the sides of the chamber resemble 
the folds of massive curtams, the edges or binding of which are, 
in appearance, very closely akin to the delicate white coral of the 
South Seas. Here and there are stalagmites that appear like 
inverted icicles, somewhat discolored, from a few inches to over 
seven feet in height, and from three inches to two feet in diame- 
ter. In one spot stand " The Cherubim," united by a ligature 
like the once celebrated Siamese Twins. These are about three 
feet in width by four in height, white as alabaster, and glistening 
with frost-like crystals. 


Still descending, one threads his way among narrow corridors 
and chambers, the walls of which are draped with coral-like 
ornaments of many beautiful patterns, until he reaches " The 
AngeJs' Wings." These are some eight feet in length by three in 
breadth, while not exceeding half an inch in thickness, and 
which are seemingly cemented to the nearly vertical wall of the 
chamber. From top to bottom of these " wings," are numer- 
ous irregular bands, about one and a half inches broad, and of 
various tints of pink; which show to great advantage Avhen 
a light is placed at the back of these translucent, wavy sheets. 
When gently touched — and they should be gently touched, if at 
all — they give forth sweetly musical notes that resound weirdly 
through those silent halls of darkness. Nature, as though in- 
tending the protection of these delicate forms from vandal hands, 
has surrounded them with stone icicles. 

Other portions of the walls, especially near the roof -ceiling 
(if so it may be called), have the appearance of an inverted forest 
of young pines, that, having been dwarfed in their growth, were 
afterwards turned into stone. Still others resemble moss, lichens, 
or dead trees in miniature. Occasionally the entire side wall has 
a resemblance to sugar frosting, which is sufficiently delusive to 
the eye for tempting children to wish for a piece of it to eat ! 

The lowest chamber, two hundred and twenty-six feet below 
the entrance, is the most singular and beautiful of all. If imag- 
ination for a moment could come to our assistance, and picture 
the most exquisitely delicate of coral, arranged in beautiful tufts, 
and masses, the entire surface covered with silvery hoar frost, 
and that surface extending up a wall over thirty feet in height, 
we could obtain some approximating idea of this gorgeous specta- 
cle. There is no language that can approximately portray this 
fairy-like creation of some chemical genii for the simple reason 
that it is utterly indescribable. 

Specimens of human remains, and those of other animals, 
have been exhumed from this cave, some of which were imbedded 
in the alabaster formation. 




Exists seven miles north of Murphy's, and which is probably in the 
same belt of limestone. This is on " McKinney's Humbug Creek" 
(what a name!), a tributary of the Calaveras River. As you 
enter, the walls are dark, rough, and solid, rather than beautiful ; 
but you are soon ushered into a chamber, the roof of which is 
for some time invisible in the darkness, but where the whole for- 
mation has a resemblance to a vast cataract of waters, rushing 
from some inconceivable height in one broad sheet of foam. 

Descending through a small opening, we enter a room beau- 
tifully ornamented with pendants from the roof, white as the 
whitest feldspar, and of every possible form. Some, like gar- 
ments hung in a wardrobe, every fold and seam complete; others, 
like curtains; with portions of columns, half-way to the floor, 
fluted and scalloped for unknown purposes; while innumerable 
spear-shaped stalactites, of different sizes and lengths, hang from 
all parts, giving a beauty and splendor to the whole appearance 




surpassing description. Once, as the light was borne up along a 
glorious fairy stairway, and back behind solid pillars of clear 
deposits, and the reflected rays glanced through the myriads of 
varying forms, the whole — pillars, curtains, pendants, and carved 
work, white as snow, and translucent as crystal — glistened, and 
shone, and sparkled with a glory that surpassed in splendor all 
that we had seen in art, or read in fable. This is called 


Immediately at the back of this, and yet connected with it 
by different openings, is another room that has been, not inappro- 
priately, named " The Musical Hall." On one side of this is sus- 
pended a singular mass, that resembles a musical sounding-board, 
from which hang numerous stalactites, ai-ranged on a graduated 
scale like the pipes of an organ ; and if these are gently touched 
by a skilled musician's hand, will bi'ing out the sweetest and rich- 
est of notes, from deep base to high treble. 


If time would permit, it would \\ ell repay us, before leaving 
Murphy's, to visit the productive gold mines of Central Hill and 
Oro Plata; see the deep excavations made between the fissure-like 
formations of the limestone here, for the purpose of extracting the 
gravel therefrom, which contains the precious metal; or, to watch 
the various processes used in separating the gold from the gravel 
and pay dirt; but, as the stage leaves at 7 o'clock A. M., this will 
bo impossible, unless we decide to remain behind for a day or two 
for that purpose. 

It may be interesting for the stranger to know that after 
leaving Murphy's, our course, for nearly thirty miles, is sub- 
stantially over the bed of an ancient river, that once ran parallel 
with the main chain of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. There is 
no tellhig how much this stream could reveal to us if it had the 
power, inasmuch as the fossil remains of mastodons, mammoths, 
and other animals have been found here. The late Dr. Snell, of 
Sonora, had several hundred specimens of these. Then, gold in 



fabulous quantities has been taken from among the bowlders and 
gravel forming the under-stratum of this stream. In 1853 the 
writer saw a nugget of solid gold extracted near Vallecito, four 
miles from Murphy's, that was shaped like a beef's kidney, and 
weighed twenty-six pounds. 

But soon after leaving Vallecito, our course winds down 
among the hills to Cayote Creek, upon which, about five hundred 
yards below the road, are two 


Beneath which all the waters of the creek make their exit. 
The upper side of the upper natural bridge to its arch is thirty- 
two feet, and the breadth of the arch, twenty-five feet ; but as we 
walk beneath it, the height increases to fifty feet, and the breadth 




to forty. The rooi" reminds one of the vaulted arches of some old" 
cathedral, supported by innumerable columns. The sides in places 
are suggestive of the flowing of a stream whose waters had sud- 
denly turned to ice ; and in others to urns and basins ; all formed 
by the action of water, by which they are filled to the brim. 
The distance from the upper to the lower end of this bridge ic 
two hundred and seventy feet. 

About half a mile below the lower side of the upper bridge. 


there is another that is equally singular and grotesque. • One 
spot beneatk the roof and supporting walls presents the appear- 
ance of a beautifully worked rotunda, sixty feet in width, with a 
height of fifteen. It would be impossible to fully describe the 
many wonderful forms that ornament the arches and walls of 
these bridges • but as they are of the same general character as 
the cave, imagination can readily fill out the picture. 

Soon we reach Parrot's Ferry at the Stanislaus River, where 
we find a kindly-hearted old hermit, after whom the feriv is 


named, wlio takes us safely across. This stream, transversely 
crossincj the g-eneral trend of the ancient river, has cut the old Ijed 
away, and formed a channel through it nearly one thousand feet in 
depth ; but, when we have ascended the hill, we are again upon its 

The auriferous treasures that were there found, stimulated the 
effort and rewarded the energy of many thousands of minej-s, and 
the thriving settlements of Gold Spring (a bounteous spring hav- 
ing here supplied water for w^ashing out the gold), Columbia, 
Springfield (where another spring gushes out), Shaw's Flat, Sonora, 
Jamestown, and others sprang into life. It is no exaggeration to 
say that, within a radius of eight miles, not less than ten thousand 
miners found employment in unearthing the precious metal, from 
1849 to 1854. And although it was supposed by many that these 
diggings were long since " all worked out," a population still 
numbering thousands obtains profitable returns from it, directly 
or indirectly. But while we have been talking, we find ourselves 
passing down the main street of one of the prettiest mining towns 
in California, euphoniously named 


I like Sonora, and like and believe in its wide-awake, ener- 
getic, and large-hearted people ; with whom I frankly confess to 
feel most thoroughly at home. And if time only permitted, I 
should desire to introduce them, personally; knowing that you 
would be gratified and honored with their acquaintance. As this, 
however, is impracticable, I cannot forego the opportunity of say- 
ing, that Sonora is not only the county seat of Tuohnnne County> 
but is still the center of a rich mining district. Only a few years 
ago the " Piety Hill " ledge (since named the " Bonanza Mine"), 
alone, yielded over half a ton of gold in a single week ; and this 
is only one of many claims still profitably worked. Wood's Creek, 
upon which Sonora and other towns are located, has produced 
more gold, for its length, than almost any other stream on the 
Pacific Coast; and it is cjuestionable if any mule team in existence 


could haul away at a single load all the precious metal that has 
been taken from these rich mines. Nor is gold the only product, 
hy any means ; inasmuch as the very finest of fruit, and that in 
untold abundance, is grown here; ^\\i\\ all kinds of vegetables, 
and cereals. Its altitude, as given by the Wheeler U. S. Survey, 
is, at the post-office, one thousand eight hundi'ed and sixteen feet 
above sea level. 

As the climate is temperate, health}^, and exceedingly invigorat- 
ing ; its people kindly-natured and enterprising ; the gold mines and 
mining interests instructive to the student, and diverting to the 
invalid, with abundant educational advantages provided for the 
yoang, there can exist but little doubt that the entire section, in 
and around Sonora, at a very early day, will become not only a 
favorite place to visit, but whereon to found permanent homes. 

A few miles above Sonora, upon or near the great highway 
which here crosses the main chain of the Sierra Nevada Moun- 
tains, are several very productive gold-bearing quartz ledges, that 
give profitable employment to hundreds of men, and yield rich 
returns of the precious metal to their fortunate owners. 

Upon our departure from this prosperous town, we follow the 
course of Wood's Creek, past suburban residences and gardens, 
machine shops and foundries, flouring mills and quartz mills, 
orchards and vineyards ; down to the once famous mining camp of 
Jamestown (affectionately called by old residents "Jimtown" — 
consult Bi-et Harte and Prentice Mulf ord on this) ; and as we now 
drive through its principal street, and revert to its exciting past, 
it requires quite an effort to overcome the sadness which the con- 
trast inspires, and which, uninvitedly, prompts the soliloquy, sic 
transit gloria miincli. Still, there is more or less prosperity lin- 
gering here, owing to its proximity to the gold mines of Poverty 
Hill, Quartz Mountain, and others. From Jamestown, through 
Montezuma, to Chinese Camp, evidences are abundant that this 
extensive district was once thronyed to overflowino- with miners, 
and full to the brim with mining life. But as we are now in 
Chinese Camp, and our route here intersects with the Milton and 
Big Oak Flat, our course hence will be outlined in a future chapter. 



Their age unknown, into what depths of time 
Might Fancy wander sportively, and deem 
Some Monai'ch-Father of this grove set forth 
His tiny shoot, when tlie primeval ilood 
Receded from the old and changed earth. 

— Mrs. S. C. Connor's Le'jend of California, 

The whole creation is a mystery. 

— Sir Thomas Brownk's Belhjio Medici. 

Our best impressions of grand or beautiful sights are always enhanced by 
their communication to sympathetic and appreciative minds. 

— Abel Stevens' Zj/e of Madame deStaiil, Chap. XXII. 

As four different routes to the Yo Semite Valley pass through, 
or near, one or other of the Big Tree Groves; and inasnuich as 
all who are fond of botanical studies would like to consider the 
peculiarities of this interesting genus, I have thought that it 
would probably be most acceptable to devote this chapter exclu- 
sively to their discussion. 

As stated in the preceding chapter, it is to Mr. A. T. Dowd, 
a hunter, to whom the honor is due of discovering this remarkable 
species, in 1852. Shortly after their discovery was made known, 
the California Academy of Sciences o1 San Francisco obtained 
and transmitted illu.strative specimens of its cones and foliage 
to Prof. Asa Gray, of Cambridge, Massachusetts; and to Dr. 
John Torrey, of Columbia College, New York; but these were 
lost on the voyage. The next year Mr. William Lobb, an English 
botanist, was sent to California, by Mr. James Yeitch, of the Royal 
Exotic Nur-ser}', Chelsea, England, as a collector of plants; who 





forwarded specimens of the seeds, cones, and foliage of the Big 
Trees, to the firm he represented ; who placed them in the hands of 
the eminent English botanist. Dr. Lindley, for examination and 
classification. As Dr. Lindley was the first to describe them (in 
the Gardener's Chronicle of December 24, 1853), thinking it 
a new genus, he named it Wellingtonia gigantea, after His 
Grace the Duke of Wellington, then recently deceased. Apart 
from the questionable taste of naming a purely American tree, 
discovered by an American, after an English nobleman, however 
exalted he might deservedly be in the estimation of his country- 



men, subsequent closer analysis proved 
that it belonged to a genus already 
classified, and named, by the famous 
botanist, Endlicher, and known as the 
Redwood, Sequoia, sempervirciis (the 
Toxodiuni sernpervivens of Lambert). 
The generic similarity between the Big 
Tree and the Redwood determines them 

No. 1 leprdsents the cone of the Sequoia (ji<jan- No. 1 represents the male 

tea, and No. 2 that of the Sequoia sempenirens. flower of the Sequoia 'jiijan- 

Natural size.* tea, and Xo. '2 that of the 

Sequoii seviperrirens. Nat- 
ural size.* 

to belong to the same genus, Sequoia. Outside of England, there- 
fore, the Big Tree is now known as the Sequoia gigantea; that 
and the Sequoia sempervirens being the only representatives of 
the genus, the flowers and cones of which differ in nothing except 
size, as clearly indicated in the above engravings. 

Although botanical investigation claims that nearly all pines 
require two years for flowering and the ripening of their fruit 
for seed-bearing purposes, and the Sequoias three, Mr. W. M. 
Whitley, for several seasons a resident as well as visitor of the 
Mariposa Big Tree Grove, after closely watching the annual prog- 
ress and development of difierent clusters of cones, contends that 
the Sequoia requires four, instead of three years, to bring it to 

'Veitch's Manual of Coniferae. 



Sequoyah was the name of a Cherokee Indian chief, of mixed 
blood, who lived in Will's Valley, at the northeastern corner of 
Alabama ; and who became famous to the world as the inventor 
of an alphabet of eighty-six characters, each representing a sylla- 
ble, for the purpose of supplying his tribe with a written language. 
This lano-uasre is still in use among the Cherokees. He died in 
1843, at the age of 73 years. His intellectual and inventive 
prominence exalted him as far above his people as the lofty red- 
woods of the Coast Range towered above other forest trees; and 
this coincidence suggested to Endlicher the pi-opriety of honorably 
perpetuating the name of this memorable chief, through one of the 
most valuable and imposing productions of the vegetable kingdom. 
Hence the name, Sequoia, now made generic by its application to 
both species of the genus. 


The Big Trees do not grow in one continuous belt, like the 
pines and fii-s, for instance; but in groups, some of which, as the 
South Grove and Tuolumne, are nearly forty miles apart ; and 
generally in sheltered hollow^s, below^ the tops' of ridges. These 
groups are ten in number ; and, commencing northerly at the one 
first discovered, run southerly, as follows: The Calaveras, South 
Grove, Tuolumne, Merced, Mariposa, Fresno, Dinky, King's River. 
New King's River, and Kaweah or Tule Group. The latter, being 
scattered over low ridges and valleys, only separated hy deep 
canons, for over sixty miles, and having a breadth of five, might 
more correctly be called a belt; wnth a vertical range of nearly 
two thousand five hundred feet. Their altitude, like the upper 
timber-line of the Sierras, is more or less climatic, and regulated 
somewhat by latitude ; for, while some of the Calaveras group are 
less than five thousand feet above sea level, the Grizzly Giant 
in the Mariposa Grove, by no means the highest in location, 
is nearly six thousand, and those of the Tule Grove over eight 
thousand. This applies to the native habitat of all forest trees 


of the Sierras, even when having a range, in altitude, of from 
two to three thousand feet, as in the Tule Grove; for, while 
the upper edge of the timber forest at Mt. Shasta is only eight 
thousand feet, that immediately east of Yo Semite is eleven thou- 
sand, while on the ridges near Fisherman's Peak (the pi^oposed new 
Mt. Whitney) it is twelve thousand two hundred feet above sea 
level. Latitude, therefore, as well as altitude becomes an impor- 
tant factor in the distribution of species, in the forests of the 
Sierras, and should be allowed due consideration when determin- 
ing their habitat. 


If, as generally conceded by botanists, the concentric rings 
of trees interpret their annual growth, they at once suggest an 
interesting inquiry as to the probable age of the Sequoias. The 
distance of the rings between is sometimes very marked; in- 
asmuch as, while some do not show more than six or eight to 
the inch, others will give forty. Rich soil and favorable location 
may account for the former, and the reverse for the latter. The 
concentric rings of the stump of the original Big Tree in the 
Calaveras Grove, prove its annual gi-owth to have been more than 
double that of others in the same group ; therefore, while intimat- 
ing that it was cut down in its youth, perhaps a thousand years 
before it had attained its full development, it is suggestive of the 
possibility of many emiment scientists having been misled in their 
estimate of the approximate age of these vegetable giants. I 
have a piece of wood in my Yo Semite cabin, taken from one of 
the decumbent trees in the Mariposa Grove, that will average 
thirty-four rings to the inch. I have counted such in numerous 
specimens, and am satisfied that the average number of concentric 
rings in the Sequoias, would be about twenty -four to the inch ; 
supposing, therefore, the diameter of the tree to be twenty-five 
feet (the distance across the stump in the Calaveras Grove), meas- 
uring from the heart to the outer edge of the sap, the half 
being twelve feet six inches, would make its astonishing age three 
thousand six hundred years ; and, if thirtv feet in diameter (there 


are many of these), it would be four tliousand three hundred and 
twenty years. 

There is no apparent probability of this species ever becom- 
ing extinct, as its fecundity exceeds that of any other forest tree 
in the Sierras. 

Notwithstanding the striking resemblance between the two 
species of this genus, in habit, form, wood, cones, and foliage, 
the "Redwood" has never been found growing in the Sierra 
Nevada Mountains, or the " Big Tree " in the Coast Range. 


There can be no question of the very rapid growth of the 
Sequoia gigantea, inasmuch as the species was unknown until 
1852, and no seeds from it were sent to England before 1853; yet 
trees have been grown there that have attained an altitude and 
circumference that are remarkable: For instance, at the country 
seat of the Earl of Devon, at Powderham Castle, near Exeter, 
England, there is one specimen that exceeds sixty feet in height 
and ten feet in girth, at three feet from the ground; and that 
growth has been attained in less than one-third of a century. 
There are many other notable examples in Kent, Devon, Glouces- 
ter, Sussex, and other counties of England, where this species seems, 
thoroughly to acclimatize. 

There is one striking difference between the Sequoia gigantea, 
and the Sequoia seinpey^virens, in habit; the former grows only 
from seeds, and the latter from both seeds and suckers, and mainly 
from the latter, in their native forests. 


Notwithstanding the exceeding softness, lightness, and fine- 
ness of texture of its timber, its durability is unequaled. In the 
Fresno Grove there lies an immense Sequoia, within three feet of 
whose sides there sprung up a thrifty young giant, which, when 
it reached the prostrate tree, as it could not thrust it out of its 
way, grew over it ; so that when last seen by the writer it had 
grown across it six feet and ten inches ; yet the heart- wood of 


that prostrate tree was as sound as the daj that it fell. This 
species, therefore, will, at no distant day, be cultivated for its 
valuable qualities as a timber tree; both from its durability, 
fineness of texture, and general excellence for finishing purposes. 

There is a dense resinous gum that exudes from the bodv of 
the tree in considerable quantity, where fire has consumed the 
wood, and much of this has run into the burned cavity; and 
which, becoming ignited, has largely contributed to the destruc- 
tion of the tree. This gum is of a crimson-tinted chocolate color ; 
but its relative uses, or commerical value, have not yet been deter- 
mined. A similar substance drops from the cone in fragmentary 
crystals, when it is ripe. 

Although especial prominence has been given here to the Se- 
quoia gigantea or Big Tree, owing to its being one of the remark- 
able forest products of the Sierras, and Avithin the circle or round 
of Yo Semite travel, there can exist no possible intention of slight- 
ing its big twin brother of the Coast Range, the Sequoia semper- 
vlrens, or Redwood; inasmuch as, although separate in habitat, 
there is but little inequality between the two species, either in 
stature, texture, imposing presence, or other valuable qualities. 
They are, therefore, twin representatives of the finest genus of 
forest trees yet known to man. Yet, notwithstanding this, and 
their being the new wonder of the world, found within a limited 
area on this coast only, humiliating confession has to be made, 
that, from business greed and lack of foresight in the government, 
these glorious Sequoian forests are so rapidly disappearing that, 
within a quarter, or at most a third of a century, they will have 
been swept from off the earth. 

The Sequoias are proven to have existed in the Tertiary 
Period, as fossil remains of its cones and foliage are in the posses- 
sion of Mr. Carruthers, Curator of Botany at the British Museum, 
London ; and fossil specimens have also been recently found in the 
Calaveras Grove. The so-called "Petrified Forest," near Calis- 
toga, Napa County, California, represents the fossiliferous con- 
dition of Sequoia seTiipervirens. 



Go fortli niidL-r the i pen sky, and list 
To Nature's teachings. 

— Bryant's Thnnatopsis. 

O what a ghiiy doth this world put on 
For him who, with a fervent heart, goes forth 
Under the bright and glorious sky, and looks 
On duties well performed, and days well spent! 

— Longfellow's Autumn. 

One contented with what he has done, stands but small chance of becoming 
famous for what he will do. He has laid down to die. The grass is already grow- 
ing over him. — Bovee's Summarie-t of Thought. 

Spinning out from the Lathrop depot on our way to Berenda, 
by the Southern Pacific Raih'oacl, that being the route we have 
now elected to take, our course lies up the valley of the San 
Joaquin; past farms, and stock, and towns; with the snow-capped 
Sierras on our left hand, the Coast Range on our right, and both 
in the far-away distance until we reach Berenda. Here we leave 
the Southern Pacific and take the Yo Semite branch railroad 
to Raymond, twenty-two miles distant. 

Our course lies easterly' ; and, for the first eight or ten miles, 
over a treeless tract of country, of the peculiar formation desig- 
nated by people generally as "hog wallows;" consisting of 
little flat hills, nearly round, about twenty feet in diameter, and 
from one to three feet in elevation, onl}^ divided from each other 
by narrow hollows. As there are hundreds of square miles of 
these, all sorts of theories upon their origin have been formulated, 
but none, as yet, satisfactorily so. Some think them the creations 
of an immense number of rodents; others, by shrubs around 
which the wind has carried soil, and left it; others, by the action 



of water; but, as all these know as much about their cause as 
we do, there is something left for all to inquire into and think 
about. Uninviting, however, as these may at first sight appear, 
for agricultural purposes, as the land is comparatively cheap, 
easily reclaimed, and the soil productive, they are rapidly being 
taken up by colonies of settlers. 


From San Francisco, via Lat/irop, Merced, Berenda, Bayjiiond, Grant's Sulphur 
Springs, Waivona, and Mariposa Biy Tree Grove, to Yo Semite. 

Stations marked (a) are stopping' places at nig-ht for stajre passengers; those marked (6) 
are hotels, or where meals can be liad; those marked (c) are where liay and grain are obtain- 
able; those marked (d) are staee stations. 


Distances in Miles. 


By Railway. 

From San Francisco to — 
Lathrop, junction of the Southern Pacific with the 

Central Pacific Kailroad (he) 

Merced, on Southern Pacific Railroad (be) 

Berenda, on Southern Pacific Railroad (a bed)... 
Raymond, on Yo Semite Branch Railroad (be).... 



200 03 

By Carriage Road. 
From Raymond to — 

Gambetta Klines 

Crook's Ranch 

Grant's Sulphur Springs (bed) 

Summit of Chou-chilla Mountain 

Wawona (Clark's) (abed) 

Eleven Mile St ition (b c} 

Chinquapin Flat ((/) 

El Capitan Bridge, Yo Semite Valley ....... 

Leidig's Hotel, Yo Semite Valley (ab c d). . . 
Cooks Hotel, Yo Semite Valley (abed)... 
Barnard's Hotel, Yo Semite Valley (a. bed). 























' From Big Tree Station (Clark's) to and through the Mariposa Big Trees and back testa- 
tion, 17 miles. 


By railway 200.03 miles. 

By carriage road 60.90 

To BIl: Tree Groves and return 17.00 

Total distance 277.93 miles. 



Leaving the railroad at Raymond our road now winds around 
oak-studded ridges, or across flats and low knolls, which, in spring, 
are garnished with an endless variety of flowers and flowering- 
shrubs. Of the former, from a single square yard, carefully meas- 
ured ofl", a botanical enthusiast informed the writer that he picked 
over three thousand plants ! Journeying over the same ground in 
the fall, nothing but a just and discriminating imagination could 
realize how beautifully these hills were then garnished. 

While changing horses at the station, there can sometimes be 
seen a horny-backed, and point-armored little reptile that attracts 
attention by the singularity of his appearance. It is called 


This quaint little member of the lizard family is generally 
found on dry hills, or sandy plains; never in Swamps or marshes. 
There are six different species, and all perfectly harmless. Owing 
to this, and their slow movements making them easy of capture, 
with their singular appearance, they have been carried ofl' by 
curiosity -hunters, as pets ; so that, although quite numerous some 
years ago, they are now becoming scarce. They possess the won- 
derful power of adapting their color to that of the soil ; and change 
from one hue to another in from twenty-four to forty-eight, 

THE HORNED TOAD ( Phrynosmiia , 



hours.* They sometimes simulate death when handled, and will 
putt" themselves into a nearly spherical shape. Their aversion to 
dogs is very great ; and, when one approaches, they raise themselves 
to their full height, puff out their body, and hiss aloud. They 
will completely bury themselves out of sight in the sand in a few 
moments. Their food consists of flies and other insects, which 
they capture by quickly thrusting out the tongue, coated with a 
viscid saliva. 

When a resident of the mines, in 1849-50, the writer had a 
pair picketed out in front of his cabin for over three months; 
when, strange to say, at the end of that time, the male, which 
was the smaller of the two, wound himself around his picket-pin 
one morning, and strangled himself ; and, on the evening of the 
same day the female followed his suicidal example. Upon mak- 
ing a post-Tnoiiem examination of the latter, a cluster of fifteen 

eggs was found, as represented in the 
accompanying engraving. Upon a 
visit to any Chinese pharmacy, the 
Horned Toad will be found dried and 
ground into powder, or infused in a 
decoction, for certain fevers, and dis- 
eases of the skin. 

As we keep ascending, the scenery 
becomes more picturesque, and the 
shrubs and trees more interesting. 
There are two of the former that are 
very marked in their attractiveness one is the "Leather wood" 
Fremontia Californica, which is from eight to twelve feet in 
height, covered with bright yellow blossoms; and the other the 
"Buckeye" .^sculus Californica, having an erect panicle of 
pinkish-white blossoms, from six to twelve inches in height, and 
two or more in thickness. But were we to examine every flower, 
shrub, and tree, found upon our way, our task would be endless; 
as the late Dr. Torrey assured me that he saw over three hundred 

*See Lieutenant Wheeler's U. S. Survey, vol. v, page 512. 



different species, not to mention varieties, in a single day's ride, 
on his way to Yo Semite. 

Just as we are coming to another station, the " lump-e-tump- 
thunip " of machinery in motion tells us that we are near 


That which is nearest the road, and most easily seen, is the 
"Shore Pride," owned by J. M. McDonald & Bro. This is 
situated on " Grub Gulch " (the name of the post-office); so called 
from the fact that, whenever men grew too poor to exist elsewhere, 
they returned here, and " dug out a living." To the left of this, 
and a little farther on, is the Haley or Gambetta Mine. This is 
a rich vein of ore that steadily yields a given sum fl must not 
tell you how much, as the amount was named confidentially ; but 
it would take you and I many thousand years to starve to death 
upon it if \ve did not spend over $5,000 per month). If you wish 
to see a neat and cozy home, a well-arranged mill, and an excel- 
lent gold-bearing quartz ledge, do not fail to call here. These 
works are about thirty-three miles from Berenda, and are one 
thousand nine hundred feet above sea level. 

But, threading our way among cultivated fields, over low 
hills covered with oaks and pines, we find ourselves at 

grant's sulphur springs. 

Here you will find what New Englanders w^ould call a 
" chipper," brisk, go-ahead, wide-awake, and kindly-hearted man ; 
who, as "mine host," will make you feel at home; and, as pro- 
prietor, that he has spared neither money, time, nor energy to com- 
pel a forest- wilderness to "blossom as the rose." He raises the 
largest crops, the biggest water-melons, the nicest strawberries, 
and the finest fruit to be found anywhere. More than this, he 
will praise his chicken, and chicken salad, or roast beef, or home- 
raised hams, and everything else upon his table; if for no other 
purpose than to help you to find an appetite to eat it. Almost 
before you know it, therefore, you find that you have not only 
eaten a hearty meal, but have thoroughly enjoyed it. If there 



could be found a single stingy hair in Judge Grant's head. Ught 
as the crop is becoming, I believe he would pull it out. 

Then, there are the "Sulphur Springs," rolling out thirty- 
three inches of strong sulphurous water every second ; and said to 
be fully equal to the celebrated springs of Arkansas, and Saratoga. 
These, with the mountain air, conveniences of access, and wildly 
picturesque surroundings, will bring hither many an invalid, who 
can here take out a new lease of life, with Judge Grant to assist 
in '' drawing up the papers." 

Leaving this attractive spot, our road winds along the 
shoulders of Chow-chilla Mountain; and, while his bold brow of 
o-ranite is frowningf above us, there is a broad and marvelouslv 
beautiful landscape smiling below and beyond us, and one that it 
would be difficult to excel anywhere. Be sure and induce your 
coachman to " hold up " for a few moments to obtain this view. 

That satisfying and intensely gratifying prospect only pre- 
pares us for the contrast so soon to follow ; for, having reached 
the summit of Chow-chilla Mountain, and an altitude of five 
thousand six hundred feet, we enter a glorious forest of pines, 
which continues all the way down the mountain, some four and 
a half ndles, to 


Wawona (the Indian name for Big Tree), formerly called 
" Clark's," is the great central stage station, where the Berenda, 
Madera, and Mariposa routes all come together; and which also 
forms the starting-point for the Mariposa Big Tree Groves. The 
very instant the bridge is crossed, on the way to the hotel, the 
whole place seems bristling with business, and business energy. 
Conveyances of all kinds, from a sulky to whole rows of passen- 
ger coaches, capable of carrying from one to eighteen or twenty 
persons each, at a load, come into sight. From some the horses 
are just being taken out, while others are being hitched up. Hay 
and grain wagons ; freight teams coming and going ; horses with 
or without harness ; stables for a hundred animals; blacksmiths' 
shops, carriage and paint shops, laundries and other buildings, 


look at us from as many different stand-points. That cozy-look- 
ing structure on our left is Mr. Thos. Hill's studio; but that 
which now most claims our attention, and invites our sympathies, 
is the commodious and cheery, yet stately edifice in front known as 
the Wawona Hotel. 

The moment we reach its platform, and are assisted in alight- 
ing- by one of the three brothers, Mr. A. H., Mr. E. P., or Mr. J. 
S. Washburn, we feel at home. And while one or the other of 
these gentlemen are seeking to divest our garments of the little 
dust that has gathered on them, and the servants ai"e performing a 
similar service to our baggage, let me introduce those gentlemen 
to you. Mr. A. H. Washburn is one of the principal owners of 
the Wawona Hotel, with its extensive grounds and pastures; and 
also of the Yo Semite Stage and Turnpike Company's stage lines> 
of which he is the efficient superintendent. If he gives you his 
word for anything, you may rest assured that it will be accom- 
plished, very near to programme, or proven to be utterly impos- 
sible. Mr. Edward Washburn, and Mr. John Washburn with 
his accomplished wife, will do their best to make our stay here 
enjoyable. To their kind and courteous care, therefore, we con- 
fidently commit ourselves. 

After dinner the first place generally visited is 


Here will be found quite a number of beautiful gems of art, the 
merits of which are assured from the fact that Mr. Thos. Hill 
took the first medal for landscape painting at the Centennial Ex- 
position of 1876, and also the Temple Medal of the Academy 
of Fine Arts, of Philadelphia, for 1884, with numerous others. 
The paintings, therefore, will speak for themselves. We shall, 
moreover, find Mr, Hill a very genial gentleman, who has been 
everywhere, almost — if not a little beyond — seen about as niuch 
as most men, and can tell what he has seen pleasantly, includ- 
ing his haps and mishaps. So that apart from the delight given 
by an inspection of his beautiful creations (and he loves Art for 
her own sake), our visit will meet with other rewards. 



This, deservedly, forms one of the attractive pilgrimages 
around Wawona, and a sight of these botanical prodigies has 
probably been one of the many inducements to the journey hither. 
The trip is generally undertaken in the eaj'ly afternoon ; but, if 
time will allow, the entire day should be devoted to it. There is 
so much to be seen upon the way ; its flora, and fauna (not much 
of the latter), and sundry " what nots," that will otherwise be- 
guile us into the regretful wish that we had more time to spend, 
lingeringly, among them. And, after all, what is time for, but 
to use well, and to spend pleasantly? 

But before setting out for them, it may be well to state that 
this grove of big trees was discovered about the end of July, or 
the begmning of August, 1855, by a young man named Hogg; 
who passed by, however, without examining them. Relating the 
fact to Mr. Galen Clark and others, Mr. Clark and Mr. Milton 
Mann, in June, 185G, united forces, for the purpose of visiting 
and exploring the newly discovered grove; in order to definitely 
ascertain its location, with the number and size of its trees. 
These gentlemen, therefore, were the first to make known the ex- 
tent and value of this new discovery. Finding that its position 
was near the southern edge of Mariposa County, it was thence- 
forward called the " Mariposa Grove of Big Trees." 

How renewing memory brings back the treasures of old- 
time experiences ; when, in company with Mr. Galen Clark, three 
years later, we shouldered our rifles, carrying our blankets and 
provisions at the backs of our saddles, and started on my first 
jaunt to this grove, over the old Indian trail. How well and how 
pleasantly do I remember it, Mr. Clark ; since which time you 
and I have both grown older, and learned many of the instruct- 
ively suggestive lessons of life. 


Is through a vast forest of stately pines, firs, and cedars, and 
among blossoming shrubs, and bright-faced flowers. On the way, 




Sketched frum Nature by G. Tirrel 


however, there is one im- 
mense suo-ar pine, which, 
had it been found in the 
grove of Big Trees, we might 
have supposed that there was 
the pride of rivalry in its 
heart, as its circumference 
is about thirty-three feet. 
About five miles from Wa- 
wona we find the first clus- 
ter of Big Trees, which are 
of goodly proportions; al- 
though the driver, by way of 
answer to our inquiring ex- 
clamations, responds, "Oh! 
they're nothin', we throws 
those little chaps in, with- 
out countin'." These our 
aneroid barometer placed at 
an altitude of five thousand 
six hundred and thirty feet. 
But once fairly within the 
impressive precincts of the 
grove, \Ke are soon brought 
face to face with one of the 
oldest, most storm-tossed, 
and grizzled, of this entire 
family of Brobdingnags. It 
is called 


And it looks at you as defi- 
antly as the oldest veteran 
grizzly bear ever could. 
By careful measurement we 
found its dimensions to be. 


at the ground, including a jutting spur, ninety-one feet; and 
three feet six inches above the ground, seventy-four feet six inches. 
Professor Whitney places its circumference, eleven feet from the 
ground, at sixty -four feet three inches ; with its two diameters at 
base thirty, and thirty-one feet ; and, eleven feet above base, twenty 


But a mere statement of dimensions and altitudes of these 
trees can give no realizing sense of their idealistic presence and 
magnitude. It is the grandeur of their exalted individuality and 
awe-inspiring presence that thrills through the soul, and fills it 
with profound and speechless surprise and admiration ; and not 
merely of one tree, but of whole vistas formed by their stately 
trunks. Who, then, by pen or pencil, can picture these as they 
are seen and felt? But we must not linger here, as there are just 
as many big trees in this grove as there are days in the year ; so 
let us see a few of those which are most remarkable. 

The coach generally halts at a large and deliciously cool 
spring near the cabin, where those who have come to spend the 
day will probably take lunch. Here, too, we shall have the 
pleasure of meeting the guardian of the grove, Mr. S. M. Cun- 
ningham, who knows every tree by heart; with its history, size, 
and name, and who can tell us more about them in ten minutes 
than many men could in an hour, who are perhaps quite as 
familiar with them, and he will do it cheerfully. I can see his 
bright and genial look, and can watch his wiry form and supple 
movements, while I write. There is one thing especially notice- 
able about Mr. Cunningham, he never gets discouraged; and 
always sees the bright side of things; so that when a storm is 
swaying the tops of the trees until they bend again, he can listen^ 
interestedly, to their music ; and can tell you laughable incidents 
until your .sides shake. 

Two beautifully perfect Sequoias stand on either side the 
cabin, one named the " Ohio," and the other " U. S. Grant." The 
former is seventy-six feet in girth at the ground, and six feet 
above the ground is fifty -five feet ; and the latter sixty -five feet 


six below, and forty-five feet above. Within thirty yards of these 
is the "General Lafayette," thirty feet in diameter. Near this 
is the " Haverford " (named after the " Friends " College, Phila- 
delphia), in which sixteen horses have stood at one time. It is 
burned into three compartments ; across two of the spui's of which 
the distance is thirty -five feet ; and, transversely, thirty-three feet. 
" Washington " has a girth of ninety- one feet, at the base; is round 
and very symmetrical. Although burned out somewhat near the 
ground, the new growth, as usual, is rapidly healing the wounds 
that fire has made. This is an especially excellent provision of 
nature for preserving and perpetuating this grand species, when in 
its prime ; inasmuch as while restoring the ravages of the elements 
by the new growth, a much-needed support is added to the abut- 
ments, which intercepts and prevents it premature downfall. 

The " Mariposa " is eighty -six feet in circumference, at the 
ground ; and, seven feet above it, is sixty-six feet. This tree seems 
to have been badly burned by two consuming fires, at different 
periods ; after each of which the new growth has, visibly, attempted 
its restoration. Near to this are four beautifully symmetrical trees, 
named, respectively, " Longfellow," " Whittier," " Lyell," and 
"Dana," a 'quarto of great natures, whose companionship is sug- 
gestive of poetry and geology going hand in hand with each 
other; and almost adjoining these is the "Harvard," a tall and 
gracefully tapering tree of fine j)roportions, which seems to derive 
much strength of purpose from so congenial an association. The 
"Telescope " is an erect, burnt-out chimney-like trunk about one 
hundred and twenty feet in height, and which, although a mere 
shell, has still a growth of cone-bearing foliage upon it. The 
"Workshop ' is an immense living giant with a capacious hollow 
at its base, which forms a room twelve by sixteen, in which all 
sorts of little souvenirs are made from broken pieces of the big 

But, "Wawona,"the "Tunnel Tree," through the heart of 
which the road passes, is one of the most attractive in the grove. 
At the base this tree is twenty-seven feet in diameter; while the 



enormous trunk through which the excavation is made is in sohd 
heart-wood, where the concentric rings, indicating its annual 
growth, can be readily seen and counted, and its approximate 
age determined by actual enumeration, and thus satisfactorily 
settle that interesting fact beyond the least peradventure. The 

I'holo. Ijy (ieo. Fiske. 



arch, or " tunnel " as it is called, is ten feet iu height, by a width 
of nine feet six inches at the bottom, and six feet six inches at the 
top. "Driving through a living tree," one would suppose to be 
as great a feat as Daniel O'Connell's, who boasted that he could 
"drive a ' coach and four' through any Act of Parliament ever 
made in the British House of Commons!" 

Just below this is a very large prostrate tree, in possession of 
the questionable name of " Claveau's Saloon," through which, in 
former years, two horsemen could ride abreast for eighty feet; 
but, another "big tree" falling across it, has broken in its roof; 
yet, above this, people can ride through, for thirty feet. The few 
noticeable examples here presented can be but barely sufficient to 
illustrate the peculiarities and immense proportions of this extraor- 
dinary genus; and when our delighted vision can be feasted 
upon such magnificent representatives as the " Queen of the 
Forest," " Monadnock," "Keystone," "Virginia and Maryland," 
"Board of Commissioners," the "Diamond Group," and many 
other equally perfect trees, varying in circumference from sixty 
to ninety feet, and in altitude from two hundred and fifty to two 
hundred and seventy-five feet, we become satisfied that, like the 
Queen of Sheba's opinion of the wisdom of Solomon, " The half 
hath not been told," and never can be; and these become sug- 
gestive of the rich banquet in store for those who can here wor- 
ship nature for her own glorious sake. 

And, be it remembered, that the " big trees," large as they are 
in themselves, are but a small proportion of this magnificent 
forest growth, intermixed and interwoven, as they are, with the 
drooping boughs of the white blossoming dogwood, Cornus 
Kutallii ; or the rich purple flowers of the ceanothus, Ceanothus 
thyrsifiorus ; or the feathery bunches of white California lilac, 
Ceanothus integerrmius, and other species of this beautiful 
plant; and to which must be added, the ever fragrant masses of 
blossom which adorn the azaleas, Azalea occidentaUs, or the 
spice bush, Calycanthus occidentaUs, with its long, bright green 
leaves, and singular, wine-colored flowers ; and from among all of 


these will be seen peeping the large white bells of the " Lady 
Washington Lily," Liliurn Washingtonianum; or the Little 
Red Lily, Liliuw. parvwrn, with the gorgeously bright i-ed and 
orange-colored Tiger Lilies, Lilium pardalinum, and L. Hum- 
holcUii; and other flowers ad injinitwni. 

But, reluctantly as the word "good-bye" may sometimes fall 
upon the ear, or strike home to the heart, it must occasionally be 
spoken ; yet, before doing this, let us take just one outlook from 


Here is a jutting ridge that stands boldly out from the grove, 
but a short distance from the road ; and, as this affords us a com- 
prehensive bird's-eye view of the surrounding country, with its 
distant mountain ranges, and long lines of trees ; and more espe- 
cially of the grassy meadows and numerous buildings which 
constitute the Big Tree Station, " Wawona," two thousand five 
hundred feet below us, we shall feel that we are well repaid 
for our trouble. 

It may be well here to state that the Mariposa Big Tree 
Grove, with the Yo Semite Valley, was donated to the State of 
California in 1864, as recorded in Chapter VIII of this volume. 

As this is only about ten miles distant from the Mariposa 
Grove; and will, without doubt, at an early day, form one of the 
many delightful excursions from Wawona, a brief outline con- 
cerning it may not be unacceptable. On a warm sunmier even- 
ing in July, 1856, Mr. Galen Clark was riding along the ridge 
which divides the waters of Big Creek from the Fresno, and 
caught sight of a large group of trees similar to those found in 
the Mariposa Grove. Two days afterward, Mr. L. A. Holmes, of 
the Mariposa Gazette, and Judge Fitzhugh, while on a hunting 
excursion, saw the tracks of Mr. Clark's mule as they passed the 
same group ; and as both these parties were very thirsty at the 
time, and near the top of the ridge at sundown, without water for 
themselves and animals, they were anxious to find this luxury, 


and a ^ood camping-place, before dark. Consequently, they did 
not deem it best then to tarry to explore, intending to pay it 
a visit at some early time of leisure in the future. This inter- 
esting task, however, seemed to be reserved for Mr. Clark — to 
whom the world is indebted for this new discovery — and the 
writer, on the second and third days of July, 1859. 

With our fire-arms across our shoulders, and our blankets 
and a couple of days' provisions at the back of our saddles, we 
proceeded for a short distance through the thick, heavy grass of 
the meadow, and commenced the gradual ascent of a well-timbered 
side-hill, on the edge of the valley, and up and over numerous 
low ridges, all of which were more or less covered with wild flow- 
ers. About six o'clock the same evening, we reached the first 
trees of that which has since been known as the "Fresno Grove" 
in safety ; but as the sun was fast sinking, we deemed it prudent 
to look out for a good camping -ground before darkness precluded 
the opportunity, and postpone exploration for the present. For- 
tunately we soon found one, and at the only patch of grass to be 
seen in several miles, as afterwards discovered. 

As we were making our way through the forest towards it, 
thinking and feeling that probably we were the first whites who 
had ever broken the profound solitudes of that grove, we heard a 
splashing sound, coming f I'om the direction in which we were head- 
ing. This, with the moving and rustling of bushes, and the snap- 
ping of dead sticks, reminded us that we were possibly invading 
the secluded home of the grizzly bear, and might, almost before 
we knew it, have good sport or great danger, to add variety to our 
experiences. Hastily dismounting and unsaddling, we at once 
picketed our animals on the grass-plat; still wet with the spurt- 
ings of bear's feet, that had hurriedly made tracks across it; then, 
kindling a fire, to indicate by its smoke the direction of our camp, 
we started quietly out 


Cautiously peering over a low ridge, not over a hundred 
yards from our horses, we saw two large bears moving slowly 




away. Their atteution had evidently been attracted by our 
movements, as they had paused, and were looking towards us in 
a listening and somewhat defiant attitude. Mr. Clark was just 
raising his rifle for a shot, when I whispered a i-equest for per- 
mission to be allowed " the first shot at that immense fellow yon- 
der?" who was not over thirty -five yards off. " Certainly, with 
pleasure," was my companion's prompt and courteous rejoinder. 
In an instant a charge of buck-shot was sent, just behind the 
shoulder; when he made a quivering leap towards us, as though 
he would pay us back for our temerity ; but a ball, from the un- 
erring rifle of Mr. Clark, determined him to make a hasty retreat 
after the other one, already scampering off in the distance. 


We immediately started in pursuit ; and although their course 
could be easily followed by the tracks made, as well as by the blood 
from the wounded bear, they reached the shelter of a dense mass 
of chaparral, before we could overtake them, even by a shot; as 
they traveled much faster than we could, and were there securely 
hidden from sight. Deeming it impolitic and unwise to follow 
them, by creeping under and among the bushes forming their 
place of refuge, if not their lair, we walked around upon the look- 
out, until the deepening darkness, as if in sympathy with bruin, 
completed their hiding, and admonished our return to camp with- 
out the expected prize ; and where, when supper was ended, we 
soon found forgetfulness in sleep. After a very early breakfast 
we again renewed our search for the hop^d-for game ; but, although 
we ventured into the chaparral, and looked under this and that 
heavier clump of bashes, in the hopes of finding it ; we never saw 
either of them afterwards. Finding nothing larger than grouse, 
we bagged a few of those, and then commenced our explorations. 

We spent the whole day wandering through the dense forest 
which forms this splendid grove; looking at this one, admiring 
that, and measuring others, Avithout attempting to ascertain the 
exact number of Sequoias found here; yet concluded that there 
were about five hundred of well developed Big Trees, on about as 
many acres of gently undulating land. The two largest we could 
find measured eighty-one feet each in circumference, were well 
formed, and straightly tapering from the ground to their tops. 
Many others that were equally sound, and as symmetrically pro- 
portioned, were from fifty-one feet to seventy-five feet in girth. 
The sugar pines were enormously large for that species ; as one 
that was near our camp measured twenty -nine feet six inches in 
circumference, and two hundred and thirty-seven feet in length. 
None of the trees in this grove were badly deformed by fire. 

But now, if you please, let us imagine that we have taken 
the delightful, forest-arched ride, from the Marisposa Big Tree 
Grove, down to Wawona; as, before we leave its enjoyable pre- 
cincts, there are many points of interest still to visit, and among 

Mss CW'Co./V Y. 

Drawn by T. Kill, 





Hail me, dashing Chil-noo-al-na! 

O'er the clifiFs and crags I'm leaping, 
Where the wild bear, and the lion, 

From their lairs are stealthy creeping. 

Here I love to shout and clamber, 

O'er the rocky heights and steepness, 
As with misty mantle covering 

Eveiy nook and cave-like deepness. 

Here I dwell with nymphs and dryads; 

Here, so high perched on the mountains; 
While my everlasting waters 

Flutter down in ceaseless fountains. 

Dashing into space so grandly, 

Naiad streams are dancing lightly. 
With a million scintillations, 

Spangling all the air so brightly. 

In the Sylvan Grotto hiding, 

See my bride; her bright hair tosses, 
Shim'ring down in glist'ning meshes, 

'Mong the lovely ferns and mosses. 

Lol the Frost King brings his shackles, 
Ties my limbs with strength and power, 

While his elves are deftly weaving 

Shroud, and wreath, and snowy flower. 

Though he tries with deathly stillness, 

But to hush my voice forever, 
I leap forth from his embraces. 

And his manacles I sever. 

For I'm Monarch of these forests, 

From my great throne high and lonely. 

Shouting out to lesser streamlets, 
I reign o'er these waters only. 

I am mighty in my power. 

I am splendid in my glory. 
What care I for Neptune's oceans. 

Famed in song, and ancient story. 

— Mrs. Fannie Bruce Cook. 




The beautiful pen drawing on the adjoining- page, kindly 
made by Mr. Thos. Hill for this work, will tell how richly a visit 
there will be repaid, by either walking or riding the two miles 
of distance from the hotel. 

Another compensating and satisfying sally from Wawona 
is to 


The name given to the highest point of the Chow-chilla Mountains, 
lying westerly from the hotel. This suggestive nomenclature was 
given to it owing to the Indians having made choice of that point 
as a signal station, from which to telegraph, by fire and smoke, 
to al] their Indian allies, both far and near, any message they 
niioht wish to send. Its commanding outlook will at once com- 
mend their choice for the selection. The accompanying engraving, 
also from a sketch by Mr. Hill, significantly indicates the wonder- 
ful panorama rolled out before us from that glorious scenic stand- 
point, when looking east. On any clear day every deep gorge, 
and element-chiseled farrow, every lofty peak, and storm-defying 
crag, of the great chain of the Sierras, for a radius of nearly one 
hundred miles, is distinctly visible to the naked eye. It is one vast 
sea of mountains, whose storm-crested waves tell of their billowy 
upheaval by elemental forces, and suggest that they were after- 
wards suddenly cooled, and solidified into I'ock, when in most vio- 
lent ebullition; and that while the impressive individuality of 
each culminating crest is measurably dwarfed by distance, the 
general effect of the whole is inexplicably enhanced by the won- 
derful combination. 

Looking west how suddenly the scene changes from storm to 
calm ; for, while the near mountain I'idges, which form the fore- 
ground to the picture, remind us of the former, the receding 
foot-hills, and broad valleys peacefully stretching to the horizon, 
tell only of the latter; so that the one by contrast, exalts the 
impressiveness of the other, and provides, as a whole, a satisfying 
"feast of good things, of wines on the lees, well refined," that will 


be pleasantly remembered as long as memory reigns queen upon 
her throne. 


Such as the excellent trout fishing in the south fork of the 
Merced, that runs directly past the hotel ; the walk to the Fish 
Pond, and boat ride upon it; visit to Hill's Point, for the distant 
view of Chil-noo-al-na Falls; the Soda Spring, and grove of young 
Sequoias neSiY ; and other places of interest, which not only enable 
visitors to spend their time pleasantly here, but become sufficiently 
attractive to induce many to tarry months at Wawona, and some 
for the whole summer. The cheery liveliness of its constantly 
changing throng of visitors; its salubrious and exhilarating 
climate ; the balmy fragrance of its surrounding pine forests, and 
charming variety of scenery, would seem to unite in making this 
a most delightful resort for invalids. 

But as the glorious scenes of the Yo Semite are in immediate 
prospect, and as anticipation has long been on tiptoe to enter 
their sublime precincts, let us cross the South Fork Bridge at 
Wawona, and start at once upon our deeply interesting journey. 

Following the eastern l)ank of that stream for about a mile, 
we commence the gradual ascent of a long hill, the outlook fi'oni 
which is everywhere full of inspiriting pleasure. On both sides 
of the road the gossamer, floss-like blossoms of the Mountain Ma- 
hogany, Cercocarpus ledifolius; the Manzanita, Arctostaijliylos 
glauca (What a name for such a beautiful shrub I) with its pinkish- 
white, wax-like, and globe-shaped blossoms, hanging in bunches, 
challenge our admiration. But, on we roll, the landscape broaden- 
ing and the gulches, like our interest, deepening as we ascend, 
until we come to "Lookout Point." Here grandeur culminates, 
and an admonition spontaneously finds its way to the lips, " Oh ! 
diiver, please to stop here just one minute for this marvelous view. " 
This is five thousand five hundred and sixty feet above sea level. 

Before long the darkening forest shadows we are entering 
remind us that we shall soon be at Eleven Mile Station, and at 
" West Woods." West Woods is the name sfiven to Mr. John W. 


"Woods, an open-faced and kindly-hearted hunter, who makes this 
his lonely abiding-place both winter and summer. A short dis- 
tance beyond this we attain the highest point on the road, s!x 
thousand one hundred and sixty feet above the sea. About half 
a mile further on we arrive at Chinquapin Flat, where the diverg- 
ing road for Glacier Point, fourteen miles distant, leaves the main 
one. From here every step towards Yo Semite is constantly alter- 
nating and changing in scenic grandeur ; now we emerge from 
forest shades to open glades ; then look into the deep canon of the 
Merced River ; then upon the leaping tributaries of Cascade Creek ; 
until, at last, we come to that unspeakably glorious view which 
suddenly breaks upon us at 


Here language fails; for neither the pencil's creative power, 
the painter's eliminating art, photography, pen, or human tongue, 
can adequately portray the scene of unutterable sublindty that 
is now out-rolled before us. Longfellow's beautiful thought 
seems uppermost: "Earth has built the great watch-towers of 
the mountains, and they lift their heads far into the sky, and 
gaze ever upward and around to see if the Judge of the World 
comes not " — ev^en wdiile we are en trancedly waiting. 

Deep down in the mountain-walled gorge before us sleeps the 
great Valley. Its beautiful glades, its peacefully glinting river, its 
dark green pines, its heavily timbered slopes; all hemmed-in. 
bounded, by clift'-encompassing domes, and spires; Avith crags and 
pea,ks, from three to five thousand feet in height, and over 
which there gracefully leap the most charming of water-falls, from 
nine hundred to three thousand feet in height above the mead- 
ows. While "the laurel-crowned king of the vale," grand old 
El Capitan, with a vertical mountain cleavage of three thousand 
three hundred feet, stands out most nobly defiant,and asserts the im- 
pressive individuality of his wonderful presence; while over all of 
these an atmospheric veil of ethereal purple haze is enchantingly 
throw^n, wuth the whole bathed in sunshine, to heighten the general 
loveliness of the scene. No change of time or circumstance can 
ever efface from memory this glorious first glimpse of Yo Semite. 



Go abroad 
Upon the paths of Nature, and, when all 
Its voices whisper, and its silent things 
Are breathing the deep beauty of the world, 
Kneel at its simple altar, and the God 
Who hath the living waters shall be there. 

— N. P. Willis. 

Pleasures lie thickest where no pleasures seem; 
There's not a leaf that falls upon the ground 
But holds some joy, of silence or of sound, 

Some sprite begotten of a summer's dream. 

— Blanchard's Hidden Joys. 

This route, like the Berenda, lies up the great valley of the 
San Joaquin, seven miles beyond the former starting-point, to 
Madera, a town probably of about five hundred inhabitants. We 
are now upon historic ground, as here the famous Fresno Indian 
Reservation was founded; and, about nine miles above where 
Madera now stands, was the place of general rendezvous for all 
the Indians gathered in, after the Mariposa Indian war of 1851-52 ; 
for the Indian Commission, and the officers and men forming the 
Mariposa Battalion. Then, it was one vast stretch of country 
without a building upon it, or any other sign of civilization— if 
we except those made necessary by the needs of reservation life — 
now it is dotted in all directions with farm-houses and gardens, 
orchards and vineyards, with cultivated fields, and succulent 
pastures, on every hand ; with the Southern Pacific Railroad run- 
ning through and among them. Let their enemies say what they 
may, these railroads are rapidly assisting development, and pro- 
gress, wheresoever their iron bands may extend. 


Frotn San Francisco, via Lathrop, Merced, Madera, Fresno Flats, and Mariposa 
Big Tree Station (Clark's), to Barnard's Hotel, Yo Semite Valley, 

Stations marked {a) are stopping places at night for stage passengers; those marked {b) 
are hotels, or where meals can be had; those marked (c) are where hay and grain are obtainable; 
those marked {d) are stage stations. 


Distances in Miles 


By Railiuay. 

Frotn Salt Francisco to — 
Lathrop, junction of the Southern Pacific with the Central Pa 

cific Railroad (be) 

Merced, on Southern Pacific Railroad {be) 

Madera, on Southern Pacific Railroad {abed) 


By Carriage Road. 

From Madera to — 

Adobe Station, Stitts' {be) 

Mudgett's Ranch {be) 

Green's Ranch {b c d) 

Kron's, Coarse Gold Gulch {bed) 

Fresno Flats {be) 

Bufford's {be) 

Board Ranch {bed) 

Summit of Chowchilla Mountain 

Forks of road to Mariposa Big Tree Groves 

Big Tree Station, Clark's {a b c d)* 

Eleven Mile Station {bed) 

EI Capitan Bridge, Yosemite Valley 

Leidig's Hotel, Yosemite Valley {abed) . 

Cook's Hotel, Yosemite Valley {abed') 

Barnard's Hotel, Yosemite Valley {abed) 

























n 3 
2- (? 




* From Big Tree Station (Clark's) to and through the Mariposa Big Trees and back to sta- 
tion, seventeen miles. 


By railway 185.03 miles. 

By carriage road 95-35 

To Big Tree Groves and return 17.00 

Total distance 298.32 miles. 




After the completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad through 
this section, the California Lumber Company was organized, for 
the purpose of tapping the extraordinary growth of timber that 
was found to exist in the Fresno Gi'ove, and for bringing its lum- 
ber down to the market created by the railroad. Saw-mills were 
accordingly erected in that vicinity; but, as its great distance 
from market precluded the possibility of its successful delivery 
there by ordinary conveyance, a '\' flume was constructed, fifty- 
four miles in length, at an original cost of $375,000, for the pur- 
pose of floating it do^vn. This will readily be seen at numerous 
points on the route. As soon as this was completed, the mills 
were put working to their fullest capacity; and lumber, to the 
extent of one liundred thousand feet per day, was started upon 
its meandering voyage to the depot. The business connected 
with this enterprise became the inception of the now prosperous 
town of "Madera" — Madera being Spanish for lumber. And 
for the purpose of meeting the wants of the people settling along 
the line of the railroad from here to Mew Mexico, the sugar and 
yellow pine, fir, and big tree wood, were converted into doors, 
blinds, sashes, etc. Here it may be said, in parenthesis, that the 
largest of the Big Trees, being found altogether too large for ad- 
vantageous handling in lumber manufacturing, were allowed to 
remain undisturbed? Two hundred men are employed in this 
industry. They saw ofl* the trees at the ground with the ordinary 
cross-cut saw, instead of chopping them down, as formerly. 

There is a lumber yard of forty acres, through which there are 
roads and railroads in all directions, and to lumber piles of all sizes 
and kinds. Near the terminus of the flume it is divided into two 
bi'anches, each of which is provided with a separate reservoir, into 
which the lumber is floated from the mountains; although most 
of it is removed directly from the flume, placed upon trucks, and 
then run upon tramways to the location desired. The waste- 
water, after being relieved of its cargo, is distributee! in dift'erent 
directions, and sold for irrigation purposes. 


This enterprise naturally formed the stimiilatincr nucleus for 
the commencement of others; and farms and farm buildings 
sprung into existence; and with them the store and hotel, the 
blacksmith shop, and other creations of industrial development. 
So that now thei^e are numerous stores, post-office. Wells, Fargo & 
Go's, express office, a commodious hotel, saloons ; and long lines of 
business places of all kinds needed in a thriving community, in- 
cluding a printing office and newspaper. 

For many years Madera was the principal station on the 
Southern Pacific Railroad, for the departure of tourists for the Yo 
Semite Valley and Mariposa Big Tree Groves ; but, since the con- 
struction of the Yo Semite branch railroad, from Berenda to Ray- 
mond, that business has naturally been transferred thither. Owing, 
however, to its convenience of location, and the excellence of the 
mountain roads leading therefrom to the great sights beyond, 
Madera will continue to be the principal place of departure for all 
persons traveling by private teams. A short distance above this 
was once a very favorite place for rodeos^ and for rancheros. 


Before gold was discovered in California its main wealth 
seemed to consist in its cattle and horses, the former being slaugh- 
tered almost exclusively for their hides and tallow, which then 
formed about the only articles of export. As there were no fences 
in those days, all animals were allowed to roam wheresoever they 
chose; generall}^ between defined bounds, as between rivers, or 
mountain ranges; and every spring their different owners, with 
their vaqueros (all well mounted), would sally out on a given day, 
scour the whole district assigned to them, and drive every animal 
found within it to the spot designated for the rodeo. Others 
would do the same for districts assigned to them, until every 
animal ranging at large was collected together. 

This accomplished, all would assemble around a large camp- 
fire for social pleasures, and spend the remainder of the day in 

* Rodeo is a Spanish word, generally applied to the place and annual gathering 
in of cattle and horses, for the purpose of counting and branding them. 


frolicking or feasting. Sometimes these imlulgences would con- 
tinue for a number of days, before commencing upon the business 
which had brought them together. Finally, however, they would 
settle down to their exciting work. Every ranchero had and 
knew the particular brand which belonged to him, and which was 
well understood and conceded by every one present. But, wher- 
ever there was a single doubt about that, the animal in question 
was immediately lassoed, as shown in the accompanying illustra- 
tion, thrown upon the ground, and examined. This satisfactorily 
determined, every calf or colt that followed its mother, was un- 
hesitatingly conceded to belong to the same owner, and was ac- 
cordingly branded with the red-hot iron which formed the brand. 
Sometimes this was a character (somewhat after the Chinese 
pattern) and at others a letter — generally the initial of the family 
name. After the counting and branding, each drove would be 
driven back to its usual range, and there left to look out for 
itself until the next spring. Occasionally there would be two 
rodeos a year, but not often. 

As our road lies over gently undulating hills near the Fresno 
River, we have frequent and refreshing glances of its willows 
and cotton woods; and the bright green verdure of its meadow 
land, confessedly somewhat limited ; with the \^ flume on its sin- 
uous course at our side, bearincj its freight of lumber down to the 

Soon the white post oaks and numerous shrubs, begin to dot 
the landscape. Then we enter the caiion of Coarse Gold Gulch — 
one of the historic places of early days — and find the music of its 
gurgling waters, and the shadows of its alder and black oak trees, 
most pleasantly diverting until we reach the little village of the 
same name, and its hotel, where the inner man can be regaled and 
the outer man refreshed. Here we have attained an altitude of 
two thousand and eighty-five feet above the level of the sea. 

After climbing a dividing ridge of the Fresno River, nearly a 
thousand feet above the gulch, we again descend to a pretty little 
hill-encompassed town, known every where as Fresno Flats. This 


is supported, mainly, by lumbering, farming, mining, and stock- 
raising. Being the business center of a number of small settle- 
ments around it, the principal street is fairly alive with teams, 
saddle-horses, bustling men and men of leisure ; with the custom - 
ary complement of Indians and dogs, found at nearly every foot- 
hill outpost of civilization throughout the State. More recently 
a number of gold-bearing quartz ledges have been found in the 
adjacent hills, which, when developed, will make an acceptable 
addition to the prosperity of the town. But, 

" Onward, and upward, let our course be." 
Before advancing far upon our journey, we enter the glorious 
forests of the Sierra, which deservedly attract the wondering 
admiration of every traveler ; these, diversified by broad openings 
and iniDressive glimpses of landscape, continue every foot of the 
way to Wawona. The highest portion of the Chow-chilla Range 
crossed upon this road is near the saw-mill at Fish Springs, which 
is five thousand one hundred and seven feet above sea level. This 
entire section is remarkably attractive to camping parties, desir- 
ous of exchanging the hot air of the plains for the deliciously cool 
atmosphere of the mountains, owing to the dense growth of its 
forests, the little patches of grassy meadows, and the leaping 
waters of Big Creek being literally alive with trout. Some fand- 
lies spend the whole summer here, at the Big Tree Groves, and 
on the mountains bordering the Yo Semite. The only detraction 
to this, as of other mountain fastnesses, is from the immense 
droves of sheep passing over, eating up every green thing (includ- 
ing beautiful lilies, and other flowering plants), and leaving a 
desert behind them. Nor is this all, for as neither deer nor any 
other game will feed after sheep, they natural!}^ and necessarily 
seek other pastures. Then to this must be added the infamous 
practice of sheep-herders setting the forests on fire — the unprinci- 
pled return for being allowed to pasture their flocks upon the 
public domain, free of every kind of charge. This route inter- 
secting those of Berenda and Mariposa, as before stated, at Wa- 
wona, they are thence necessarily continued conjointly. 



Nature never diil lietray 
The heart that loved her. 

— Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey. 

Converse with men makes sharp the glittering wit, 
But God to man doth speak in solitude. 

— John Stuart Blackie. 

He prayeth best, who loveth be-st 
All things, both great and small. 

— Coleridge's Ancient Mariner. 

As on the Berenda Route our course lies up the valley of the 
San Joaquin, to either Modesto or Merced. We can make either 
of these towns the place of departure for Coulterville and Yo 
Semite. If we have chosen the former, the first place reached, we 
shall find it a goodly-sized town, full of energetic people; and the 
usual accompaniments of a very prosperous business community 
of about seventeen hundred inhabitants, including good hotel ac- 
commodations (an important consideration just now, as we have 
to spend the night here). Modesto is the county seat of Stanis- 
laus County. 

But, if we have pi-eferred to take the Coulterville Route to 
Yo Semite via Merced, we keep our seat in the railroad car for 
about an hour and a half longer, and then alight at the El Capitan 
Hotel, Merced, where we shall forget ourselves in sleep. This 
is the county town of Merced County, and a thriving city of one 
thousand nine hundred inhabitants ; with all the usual accessories 
of business, amusement, and education ; and is the center of a re- 
markably fertile farming district. 

Leaving the Southern Pacific at either Modesto or Merced, by 

stage, we pass over a farming region and rolling countrv, devoted 



From San Francisco, via I.atkrop, Aferced, or Modesto, Coullcrvillc, and Merced 
Grove of Big Trees, to Yo Semite Valley. 

Stations marked {a) are stopping places at night for stage passengers; those marked (f>) are 
hotels, or where meals can be had; those marked (c) are where hay and grain are obtainable; 
those marked (d) are stage stations. 


Distances in Miles. 









By Railway. 
From San Francisco to — 

Lathrop, junction of the Southern Pacific with the Central Pa- 
cific Railroad {he) 

Merced, on Southern Pacific Railroad {abed) 

By Carriage Road. 
From Merced to— 

Halfway House, watering place {b c) 

Snelling's (he) 

Merced Falls (i5 c) 

Junction Station (be) 

Lebright's Ranch (bed) 

Herbeck's (^ (•) 

Coulterville (be) 

Dudley's Hotel and Ranch (a ^c ef) 

Bower Cave (be) 

Wenger's Ranch (be) 

Watering trough 

Hazel Green (? f rtO 

Forks of road to Crane Flat 

Merced Grove Big Trees . . , 

Big Meadows (bed) , 

Junction of Coulterville Road with Merced River Trail 

Forks of Coulterville and Big Oak Flat Roads 

Leidig's Hotel (abed) 

Cook's Hotel (abed) 

Barnard's Hotel (abed) 

By Railway. 
From San Francisco to — 
Lathrop, junction of Southern Pacific with Central Pacific R. R, 
Modesto, on Southern Pacific Railroad 

From Modesto to- 


Horr's Ranch 

La Grange 



By Carriage Road. 


5- 81 

3 23 

4 59 





65 68 

90 00 


93- 66 






















By railway to Merced 152.03 miles. 

By carriage road from Merced to Yo Semite 93.66 " 

Total distance via Merced 245.69 miles. 

By railway to Modesto 11403 miles. 

By carriage road, Modesto via Coulterville to Vo Semite 99-46 " 

Total distance I'/a Modesto 212.44 miles. 


mainly to the raisino- of wheat; with the great chain of the 
Sierras in full view before us. On the Modesto branch we cross 
the Tuolumne River near La Grange, and on the Merced branch 
cross the Merced "River at Snelling. A few miles above the 
former village the fossil remains of an immense mastodon were 
found, imbedded in the auriferous gravel of the mine, some ten 
feet below the surface, beneath an oak tree three feet in diameter. 
The accompanying illustration, sketched from nature, Avill indicate 
its character. 

This tooth measured six inches and three-quarters across it, 
by eight and a half inches from front to back ; and the longest 


fang, or root, was eight and a quarter inches in depth, from the 
upper to the lower surface of the jaw, reaching nearly through 
the jaw-bone. The tooth stood above the upper surface of the 
jaw about two inches. The knee-joint of this huge animal was 
about four times the size of that of the largest ox. 

Soon after crossing both the Tuolumne and Merced Rivers, 
the beautiful natural parks of the foot-hills of the Sierra, h'ing 
between the two rivers, are entered, consisting mostly of " digger" 
or " bull " pines, Pinus Sabiniana; white post oaks, Quercus 
Douglasii; and black oaks, Quercus Kelloggii; with numerous 
shrubs and flowers interspersed between, until our arrival at 
Coulterville, a mining town of Mariposa County, one thousand 
eight hundred feet above the sea. But a few miles before arriv- 



ing there, near to the Dutch Boys' Ranch, as it is called, there is 
frequently to be seen a very singular bird, that invites special 
attention, and which is known as 

THE CALIFORNIA ROAD-RUXNEii, Utococcyx Cali/omianus. 

This strange and rare bird, peculiar to California and some 
portions of Mexico, is sometimes called the Ground Cuckoo, to 
which family it l^elongs. At first sight it might be supposed to 
be a new kind of pheasant, so striking is the resemblance in color 
and pattern of plumage to that genus; but upon closer examina- 
tion it is soon discovered to be unlike it in every particular. 
Owing to its exceeding shyness and uncommon scarcity, there is 
probably less know n about this singular species than almost any 
other. The late Mr. A. J. Grayson, a loving student of ornithol- 
ogy, succeeded in catching, unobserved, the expression of eye and 
attitude of this bird just when preparing to spring, and kindly 
sent me the sketch and accompanying notes : — 

So far as 1 am acquainted, the Road-runner, or, as it is called in 
Spanish, Courier del Camino, or Pisano, has not been described by any 
ornithologist. It is a distinct and isolated species from all other birds, 
roaming about over barren plains and hills in search of lizards, snakes, 
and other reptiles, upon which it preys. It is almost always seen upon 
the ground, seldom in trees, unless pursued very closely, when it has been 


seen to spring from the ground to the branches, a height of from ten to 
fifteen feet, at a single bound, but prefers running along a road or path; 
from which habit it derives its name. When discovered, it instantly 
runs off, with remarkable fleetness, to the nearest thicket or hill, where it 
generally escapes its pursuers, either by hiding, or by sailing from one hill 
to another. It is very quick in its motions — active and vigilant; indeed 
its remarkable swiftness enables it to outstrip a horse. 

The most remarkable feature about it is its feet, these being more like 
those of clinging birds, such as the woodpecker or parrot, having two toes 
before, and two behind, armed with sharp claws. Its legs being strong 
and muscular, make it well adapted for running. 

Its plumage is rather coarse and rough, of a dusky hue, marked with 
white and brownish specks on the neck and upper parts, while under- 
neath, it is of a dirty white. The tail is long, the bill strong and slightly 
curved, eye of a greyish brown, the pupil encircled by a light-colored ring. 
A bare space extends from the eye to the back of the neck, of a pale blu- 
ish color tinged with red. The specimen I have now before me measures 
twenty-three inches from the tip of his bill to the end of his tail. The 
tail is eleven and a quarter inches, the bill two and a half inches. I have 
frequently met with this bird in my travels over the country, and have 
never seen one in company with any other bird, either of its own or any 
other kind. It is excessively shy and solitary, inhabiting the wildest and 
most unfrequented places. It has no song to cheer its solitude. At times 
it utters a harsh note, not unlike the sudden twirl of a w^atchman's rattle 

One of these birds in my possession is becoming quite tame, and 
readily feeds upon any kind of raw meat; but' prefers lizards and small 
birds, which it swallows whole — feathers and all. If given to him alive, 
he will play with them awhile before swallowing them, just as a cat will 
do with a mouse. I have seen him devour three sparrows, one lizard, and 
a portion of the breast of a coot, for his breakfast, without experiencing 
any inconvenience. It is exceedingly ravenous; and, like all birds of 
that class, has a disagreeable odor; and should, I think, be placed in the 
order of rapacious birds. 

Just before entering Coulterville, some three miles northwest- 
erly, the croppings of an immense gold-bearing quartz ledge stand 
boldly out at Pehon Blanco (a mountain of white rock) ; and the 
vein is crossed within rifle-shot of the hotels. This lode is 
the most remarkable one, in size and lineal extent, of any one 
yet found in California, as it can be distinctly traced from the 
middle of Amador County to the center of Mariposa County, a 



distance of seventy-five miles, by its stupendous eroppings. It is 
estimated that the various quartz mines on this lode, within the 
limit stated, have yielded $401)00,000 in gold. As this " Mother 
Vein," as it is called, crosses Maxwell's Creek just below the town 
of Coulterville, a visit can be paid it while the coach is stopping 
for th(^ assortment of the mail. 

TARANTULAS, Avauea Tarentula. 
Here, too, perhaps some enterprising boy or man may bring 
a tarantula's nest to show us: and as we examine the peculiarly ' 

unique manner of itscon- 
sti-uction, we naturally 
wish to know more con- 
cerning its architect and 
builder. The tarantula, 
then (so called from Ta- 
ranto, in Italy, from 
whence the first speci- 
mens were obtained by 
entomologists), evidently 
belongs to the spider fam- 
ily, although the nest is 
out of the ordinary style 
of such insects. I have 
seen specimens of this 
genus that measured five 
inches ivom the tip of one 
of its hairy legs to that 
of the other; with a body 
two and a half inches in 
length, by one inch in diameter. Their appearance is both for- 
midable and forbidding ; and they are quite venomous in their 
bite. It has eight legs, four on each side. Between the two fore 
legs there is a pair of sharp, serrated nippers, which they use 
when seizing their prey; and in their head, between these, are 
two horny, sharp, and hollow fangs, curved inwardly, through 
which a poisonous fluid is projected when striking an enemy. 




They live in nests formed of clay; which is provided with an 
ingeniously constructed trap-door, made out of about thirty layei's 
of silk and dirt (the former spun from their own body), the inner 
side of which is also covered with silk, and made water and air 
tight. The springy strength of the silken hinges of this trap- 
door is sufficient to instantly close it, the moment the nest is 
entered. As an additional security to those within there are 
holes made in the edges of the door, into which the tarantula can 
insert its fangs, and bolt himself in. 

The tarantula, like every living tenant of this world, has its 
enemy, in a large, hornet-like fly called the pepsis, whose dark 
blue body, and bright reddish-orange colored Avings, enable the 
curious to closely study his movements; as, with unrelenting 
vindictiveness, he encompasses the helplessness of his victim. 
When the pepsis catches sight of his prey, he swoops down upon 
it with a viz-z-z-zip, viz-z-z-zip, which he continues until the 
tarantula is utterly paralyzed — not killed. This accomplished, he 
leaves the defenseless body where it fell, and flies away for assist- 
ance. Sometimes it is an hour or more (I once watched for 
nearly two hours without results) before the victor returns, when 
he brings with him from three to five coadjutors, who push or pull 
the body forward until they reach their nest (always built in 
the ground), into which the tarantula is unceremoniously dropped, 
and then stowed away on one side. It has generally been sup- 
posed that this is simply a provision made for food purposes ; but 
this is incorrect, inasmuch as when the female pepsis has carefully 
placed the paralyzed tarantula into the corner desired, she then 
punctures the body, deposits her eggs in the punctures; and the 
warmth of the paralyzed body continues until the hatching proc- 
ess is completed; then the tarantula dies, and his decomposing 
body supplies the pabulum needed for the larvre and pupte of the 
pepsis, until they can fly abroad in the earth to seek their living 
elsewhei'e. One singular feature of this enemy of the tarantula, 
the pepsis, is, that the male dies immediately after sexual contact. 
Following up Maxwell's Creek beyond CWlterville for about 


two miles, we commence the ascent of a long- hill, whence a 
panorama of the town, the foot-hills, and the distant plains 
opens up before us. But, once upon its summit, the iirst grand 
view of the snow-clad peaks of the High Sierra, the sources of 
the Tuolumne and Merced Rivers, beyond Yo Semite, is obtained, 
and an altitude gained of three thousand five hundred feet. 

Now the elevated table-like flats, extending for miles, 
are either under settlement and cultivation, or are occupied by a 
bounteous forest growth of yellow pine, Pinus jionderosa, and 
the first seen upon this route. Busy saw-mills, and the wood- 
man's ax and frow here, once gave both lumber and "shakes" 
(split boards) for the mines and farms, that necessarily depended 
upon the mountains for their supplies of these ; now, however, as 
the demand has nearly ceased, the supply has correspondingly 
dwindled away. 

Winding our way among timber-clothed hills we soon arrive at 

Dudley's ranch, 

Where we can spend the night. And the moment we have felt 
the grip of Mr. Dudley's manly hand, and looked into his open 
countenance ; or received the undemonstrative welcome of his pleas- 
ant wife, there promptly comes a confidence that everything they 
may or can do for our comfort, will be a spontaneous and cordial 
act. I have entered many more pretentious way-side inns than 
this, but have never been better cared for, or kindlier treated 
than here. If I can say more, why please to consider it said, and 
I will thank you. Four miles above this we come to 


This is a natural cleft in a great vein of limestone, of a 
singular grotto-like formation, one hundred and nine feet in depth 
and length, and ninety feet in width, which is entered by a pas- 
sage between rocks, not more than three and a half feet wide, at 
the northern end of an opening in the roof, some seventy feet 
long by thirteen feet wide. The sides of this great cavity are 



draped with Avild grape-vines, while through it peep the tops of 
tall maple trees that grow deep down in the cave. When the 
boughs of these are drawn aside, you look into the abyss, below, 
where sleeps a small pool of water that is forty feet deep, made 
shadowy and mysterious by overhanging rocks. There is a boat 

upon the pool for the 
convenience of visitors. 
Side caverns opening in- 
to the main cave, unite 
to make this unique spot 
a very desirable one to 
visit. This is owned by 
Mr. Louis Pechart, a 
Frenchman, who is al- 
ready the happy father 
of some thirteen livino- 



Here the public road ends; but not so the entei'prise of 
the Coulterville people. Desirous of sharing the patronage of the 
Yo Semite travel, '' The Coulterville and Yosemite Turnpike 
Company" was formed in 1859, and the road extended, b}^ this 
company, to Crane Flat, some eighteen miles distant, at a cost of 
about S15,00(). 

But, as Yo Semite lay still far beyond, and both passengers 
and freight had to be transported thither on the backs of horses 
and mules, and over rough and precipitous trails ; and although it 
was deemed impracticable, if not impossible, to construct a wagon 
road down to the floor of the valley, from the high cliffs that mar- 
gined it in; and this work could only be accomplished by the 
aid of the best engineering skill, after the expenditure of 
large sums of money, the Coulterville and Yosemite Turnpike 
Company, stimulated to this action by Dr. John T. McLean, its 
President and largest stockholder, under an aijreement between 


said company and the Yo Semite Commissioners that the Coulter- 
ville Company should have the exclusive rights to construct, and 
to maintain for ten years, a toll road into the valley, on the north 
side of the Merced River, undertook the construction of such a 
road and completed it, in accordance with the agreement above 
named, on June 18, 1874, at an expense, over and above the ex- 
pense of that part of the road from Bower Cave to Crane Flat, of 
over $50,000. Subsequent, however, to the agreement above 
mentioned being made, and to the commencement of the survey 
and construction of the Coulterville Road to Yo Semite under it, 
the Big Oak Flat and Yo Semite Turnpike Company applied to 
the Yo Semite Commissioners for the privilege of extending their 
road (already completed to Gentrys, on the northwestern boundary 
of the Yo Semite grant), down to the floor of the valley. The 
Commissioners declined to grant this privilege to build a second 
road into Yo Semite, on the north side of the Merced River, be- 
cause of the agreement they had previously made with the Coul- 
terville Road Company, under which that company had expended 
money and acquired vested rights. 

The Big Oak Flat and Yo Semite Turnpike Company, ap- 
plied to the State Legislature, at its next session, for the privilege 
of extending its road from Gentry's to the level of the Yo Semite 
Valley, when the Act was passed and approved by the Governor, 
giving this company the privilege asked, under which it built 
its road to the level of the valley. 

While this Act of the Legislature may be regarded as an act 
of simple justice to the Oak Flat Road Company, which had 
previously completed its road to the very edge of the Yo Semite 
grant, there is no doubt that it worked great pecuniary damage 
and loss to the Coulterville and Yo Semite Tui-npike Compan}^, 
which, under its agreement with the Yo Semite Commissioners 
for an exclusive privilege foi- a road into Yo Semite on the north 
side of the Merced River, had expended many thousands of dollars 
in the construction of its roa<l, and had it nearly completed, wlien 
this Act of the Legislature, allowing a competing road to be 


built, was passed. Bvit the fact remains, and it is worthy of 
special and honorable mention, that to Dr. John T. McLean, the 
President of the Coulterville and Yo Semite Turnpike Company, 
belongs the honor of making the Yo Semite Valley accessible to 
wheeled vehicles, by the construction of the first wagon road into 
it. This road, built and maintained by him at great pecuniar}^ 
loss, by reason of unexpected competition from the Big Oak Flat 
Road, is an enduring monument to his energy and enterprise. 


After leaving Bower Cave, as we ascend the hill beyond, the 
scenery grows wilder and more beautiful. Long lines of heavily 
timbered ridges, intersecting each other like waves of the sea, 
stretch to the horizon on every hand, with here and there a tree- 
less peak that seems like a desert island in an ocean of pmes. 
There is one very noticeal)le feature in the scenery of the Sierras, 
it never grows monotonous or commonplace, as new views open 
up at every turn in the road. For ten miles from Bower Cave 
the rise is very gradual on the southern slopes of Pilot Peak Ridge, 
crossing numerous streamlets, until the pass is reached, and an 
altitude gained of five thousand three hundred and fifty feet. 


Is the boldly defiant cone-shaped landmark of this section, rising 
to the height of seven hundred feet aljove the pass, with an 
elevation of six thousand two hundred feet above sea level. From 
its summit, to which a branch load is built, all the deep canons 
of the Middle Sierras, flanked by high ridges that are covered 
with dense forests, are in fall view, while eastward are seen all 
the great peaks on the main crast of the Sierras, whence rise 
the Tuolumne and Merced Rivers ; and to the westward extends 
the broad San Joaquin Valley and the Coast Range ; the whole 
forming a panorama of remarkable grandeur that fully compen- 
sates for the short climb from the main road. 

From the Pilot Peak Pass the road is built on the backbone 
of the ridge, affording outlooks on either side, until we enter the 


dark, tree-formed shadows of Hazel Green, where, owing to its 
grassy meadows, magnificent timber, and convenience of location, 
Mr. James Halstead has established a way-side inn. 

The forests of the Sierra have their finest development in 
an elevation ranging from three thousand to seven thousand feet 
above the sea, and for three miles east and west of Hazel Green, 
some of the noblest specimens of yellow or pitch pines, Finns 
ponderosa; sugar pine, Finns Lamhertiana; red cedar, Lihoced- 
rus decurren.i; and Douglas spruce, Abies Doughixii, are found, 
Sufifar Pine Pass, two miles southeasterly t)f Hazel Grt-en, is six 
thousand eight hundred feet in altitude, and is the highest point 
on the Coulterville and Yo Semite road. Gently descending for 
about three-cpiarters of a mile beyond this we find ourselves in 


This cfrove, five thousand four hundred feet above the sea, is 
worthy of special mention, as containing some of the best pre- 
served of any of the big twe species. It is directly on tlie line uf 
the road, the survey having been made with special reference to 
these attractive studios for the Yo Semite tourist. It contains 
over fifty Sequoia^, the half of which numlier measure from forty- 
five to ninety feet in circumference. The largest are remarkably 
well preserved and beautifully symmetrical, only two or three in 
the whole grove having been injured by fire. From 


Four miles easterly of the Merced Grove, at an altitude of five 
thousand one hundred feet, the first glimpse of the Yo Semite 
Valley is obtained on this road. El Capitan, Three Graces, The 
Sentinel, and Sentinel Dome, with Glacier Point, loom grandly 
up in the distance; and, going down the eastern side of the ridge, 
others of the great Yo Semite cliffs and domes unveil their awful 
majesty, the Half Dome being the most prominent. Jogging 
along we soon come to 


As the name implies, these are extensive grassy fiats, that 


afford excellent pasturage for stock, and where much of the grain- 
hay used in Yo Semite is produced. How pleasantly does the 
writer recall the kindly treatment he has received here from its 
proprietors, Messi-s. Meason and Myers, when out upon some of his 
rambles, and found this a cordial hospice and place of refuge. 
This is four thousand three hundred and twenty feet above the 
sea, and only eleven miles from the hotels at Yo Semite. Thought 
and feeling become enlisted as we draw near the glorious realiza- 
tion of our day-dreams, the present end of our wonderful pilgrim- 
age; and this measurably prepares us for the impressive view 
before us when we reach the edge of the cliif, and obtain our first 
look down into the marvelous depths of the Merced Canon, and 
of the river, after making its hurrying exit from the valley. 


This is made by a safe and excellent road, portions of the 
way having been blasted from the solid granite walls of the canon. 
The passage of " Devil's Gulch," and other points of the blufi'tell 
how formidable were the obstructions to be overcome when build- 
ing this road. There is a cranny little spot at the foot of the hill, 
known as " The Blacksmith's Shop," which consists of an irregu- 
lar chamber formed entirely of hugh bowlders that have toppled 
off and down from the surrounding cliffs, in the "long, long ago." 
Here the forge and anvil rung out their merry peals, while picks 
and drills and crow-bars needed on the road, were being sharpened. 
No matter how high the thermometer stood upon the outside, this 
shady, rock-formed retreat, fanned by the rippling frolics of the 
leaping water of the river, was always refreshingly cool. A slight 
delay for inspecting this nature-built blacksmith's shop will be 
both gratifying and compensating. Once down on the riAer we 
begin to realize the height and massiveness of the bluffs that stand, 
f rowningly, on either side of us ; and while we are thinking about 
it, almost before we realize our nearness to it, we pass a leaping 
rivulet, and are then at the Cascade Falls; but as this forms one 
of the many delightful excursions of the Valley, further description 
of this scene now will be unnecessary. 



We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; 
In feelings, not in figures on a dial. 
We should count time by heart throbs. He most lives 
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best. 

— Bailey's Fe.'<lti-f. 
A land of promise flowing with the milk 
And honey of delicious memories. 

- Tknnyson's The Lorer'.s- Tale. 
Tis pleasant through thi' loop-holes of retreat 
To peep at such a world. 

— Cowpkk's, Bk. II'. 

As recorded in earlier chapters, this was the first and original 
route ever traveled to the Yo Semite Valley; and its fearless peo- 
ple the first to enter it, in pursuit of the marauding and murder- 
ous Indians in 1851; and afterwards to make the existence of 
sucli a marvelous spot known abroad. The gi-eat public, therefore, 
throughout the civilized world, owe an agreeable, enduring, and 
never-to-be-canceled debt of gratitude to the people of Mari- 
posa, for the gloi'ious heritage they were thus instrumental in 
conferring upon them. Unlike any other ordinary indebtedness, 
however, its remembrance will impart none but pleasurable 
emotions. In winding our way among its rich and beautiful hills, 
tlien, the memory of the early struggles of its people with the foe, 
and the boon of the remarkable discovery which followed, will 
bespeak for our journey over this historic ground far more than 
mere ordinaiy interest. 

The accompanying table of distances and altitudes, with the 

map of routes, Avill indicate that the place of departure for Yo 

Semite on the Mariposa Route, is, like one via Coulterville, from 

Merced, on the Southern Pacific Railroad. 


From San Francisco, via Laihrop, Merced, Mariposa, Mariposa Big Tree Station 
( IVawona), and Mariposa Big Tree Groves, to Yo Semite Valley. 

Stations marked (a) are stopping places at n'ght for stage passengers; those marked {b) are 
h«tels, or where meals can be had; those marked (c) are where hay and ^rain are obtainable; 
those marked (<2') are stage stations. 


Distances in Miles. 

By Railzvay. 

From San Francisco to — 
Lathrop, junction of the .Southern Pacific with the Central Pt- 

cific Railroad (/5 c) 

Merced, on Southern Pacific Railroad {abed) 

By Carriage Road. 

Frotn Merged to — 

Half-way House, watering station (/' r) 

Forks of Road to .Snelling's 

Lava Bed Station (c d) 

Griffith's Ranch 

Hornitos(^ f) 

Forks of Road to Indian Gulch 

Smith's Ranch 

Corbett's Ranch(^ c) 

Toll House 

Toll House 

Princeton {be) 

Lewis' Ranch(/5 c) 

Mariposa (a i^c a') 

Mormon Bar (be) 

Sebastopol Flat (iJc) . 

Thompson's Ranch {be) 

Turner's, form. rly De Long's (^ r) 

( old Spring ( ^ c (/) 

Summit of Chowchilla Mountain 

Wawona* (abed) 

Eleven Mile Station (i5 c rf) 

El Capitan (lower iion) Bridge, Yo Semite Valley 

Leidig's Hotel, Yo Semite Valley {abed) . 

Cook's Hotel, Yo Semite Valley {abed) 

Barnard's Hotel, Yo Semite Valley {abed) 



45 51 
52 95 
57 31 



16. 14 

I 598 

'From Wawona (Clark's) to and through the Mariposa Big Tree Groves, and back to Big 
Tree Station, 17 miles. 


By railway 152.03 miles. 

By carriage road 93.95 

Big Tree Groves and back to station 1 7 .00 " 

Total distance 262.98 miles. 




great abundance of this beautiful lily, 
the county, with its county town, received 
its musical name " Mariposa." 

Once among the more abruptly formed 
uplands of the county, evidences of gold 
mining are on every hand ; and the irre- 
pressible prospector for gold is met hunt- 
ing for hidden treasures. The world owes 
much to the undiseouraged energy of this 
class of men ; as, but for their labors, much 
of the wealth of the world would have 
been undiscovered. Good luck then to 
the prospector ; as blessings from the gold 
he may discover wnll, let us hope, bring 
prosperity and happiness to himself and 
family, and be more or less shared in by 

As much of the way, on any route we 

As on other routes, our 
course for the first few 
miles after leaving the 
railroad is among fertile 
farms and bounteous 
crops; then over gently 
undulating and treeless 
gravelly hills; then across 
or around oak knolls, in- 
termixed with flower- 
ing shrubs and flowers; 
among which is the 
charming Mariposa, or 
"Butterfly Talip," Cal- 
ochortus venustus (Mari- 
posa being Spanish for 
butterfly). From the 



may elect to take for Yo Semite, passes directly through some 
portions of the mining region, where the pi'incipal occupation of 
its people consists in extracting the precious metal ; and inasmuch 
as the stranger, who has perhaps never looked upon gold-mining 
scenes, feels a thrill of fascination in the thought of seeing people 
"digging out gold" from the earth, it creates the temptation to 
give a brief outline of the method by which this is accomplished. 
And by way of commencement let me explain that there are two 
distinctly different sets of conditions, or of circumstances, under 
which gold is found, and which necessarily require two different 
systems of treatment; one being in surface soils or gravels, and 
the other in a ledge or vein formation; the former is called 
" Placer Mining," and the latter " Quartz Mining." 

After the discovery of gold upon a bar of the American 
River, Coloma, California, January 19, 1848, and for several 
years thereafter, it was supposed that the precious metal was only 
to be found in rivers, canons, gulches, and ravines ; then, experi- 
ence revealed the fact that gold was also to be found in flats, and 
gravelly hills, away from existing water-courses ; then, advancing 
knowledge presented scientific certainty that even the gold found 
everywhere in placer diggings, had come, mainly, from quartz 
veins, or ledges — quartz being the principal matrix for its produc- 
tion. Let us, therefore, follow the earliest and most primitive 
methods, and see how gold was then taken out of surface mines. 


The prospector having arrived at a spot that looked inviting, 
at once cleared away the rocks and rubbish that might cover up 
the "pay dirt;" then he would fill his pan, and carry it to the 
nearest pool or stream of water, set it down into it, and, when 
immersed beneath the surface, would commence an oscillatory and 
slightly tipping and rotary motion forward, by which the finer 
particles of soil were induced to float away, and the pieces of rock 
or pebbles near the top to become washed ; these were picked out 
and thrown away, this process was repeated until there was noth- 



ing left in the pan but the gokl, and which, being the lieaviest of 
all, would keep settling down into the lowest inside edge, and 
was thence taken out. 

By this process thirty-five to fifty pans of pay dirt were 
washed out per day, sometimes more; the remuneration being in 
proportion to the richness of the material washed — sometimes 
"only the color " would be obtained, and at others, vary from a 
few cents to many dollars. The writer once found $137.50 in a 
single pan of dirt. Tliis method of digging gold was the earliest 

and most primitive; the 
batea, or broad, wooden 
bowl of the Mexican, ex- 

"Panning out" gold was 
soon discovered to be alto- 
gether too slow a process to 
the impetuous American, 
and was, accordingly, superseded by the "Cradle." 

This, as will be seen by the illustration (for it is still in use among 




the Chinese), was a wonderful improvement upon panning; a^; 
two men, one to procure and carry the pay dirt, and the otliei- to 
wash it, could readily average a hundred bucketfuls per day each. 

The plan of using the cradle will be very clear ; as the pay 
dirt, whether of soil or gravel, was emptied into the " hop})er " at 
the top of the machine, the bottom of which was perforated with 
holes half an inch in diameter ; and while water was being poured 
in upon the dirt with one hand the cradle was rocked with the 
other. This complex movement was about as difficult of attain- 
ment to the novice, ats that of the school-boy's attempt to rub 
his nose with one hand while patting his chest with the other. 
By this process, however, all the gold would pass through the bot- 
tom of the hopper, to be caught upon an apron immediately be- 
neath it, and there saved; or, escaping the apron, would lodge in 
one or other of the divisions across the bottom. Any pieces of 
gold too large to pass through the hopper (and there have been 
many of thesej were joyfully picked out, exulted over, and then 
dropped into the " luck}"^ buckskin purse " and there taken care of. 

Great as was the advance made from the pan to the cradle, 
that in turn had to give way to the " Long Tom," by which thou- 
sands of bucketfuls (the only method of counting or of estimat- 
ing quantities in those days) would be washed in a single day. 
But this again had to fall into desuetude, and be superseded by 


The accompanying illustration will give a general outhne of 
this method, almost at a glance. Long troughs, called " sluices," 
about twelve feet in length, are made to fit into each other at the 
end ; the number used depending upon the clayey toughness of 
the dirt to be washed, or the fineness cf the gold to be saved ; and 
varying from half a dozen to over one hundred lengths. Across 
the bottom of these sluice-boxes bars are placed, partly to niter- 
cept the too rapid passage of the material shoveled into them, hut, 
principally, to form a riffle and an eddy, Avlierein to provide a 
place of settlement for the gold being washed out. These troughs 



are set at a sufficient slant to 
insure the rapid passage oi' 
water down them; the aurif- 
erous soil, or gravel, is then 
shoveled in ; when all the finer 
material, including the pre- 
cious metal, passes down the 
sluice, the gold settles into the 
riffles ; or, falling to the bottom, 
is there saved ; while the soil is 
carried off by the, water. There is always one man needed to 
" tend sluice," whose duties consist in throwing out the largest 
of the rocks, and in having a general supervision of its working, 
to prevent mishaps. 

" Ground Sluicing " consists of turning a stream of water 
into a mining claim, by which all the light and worthless material, 
assisted by miner's picks, is made to float away ; when the gold 
settles down among the rocks or gravel; and with the better 




quality of earth remaining, is there saved, and afterwards shoveled 
into the sluice for gathering in and cleaning up. 


This is generally carried on by what is known as the " Hy- 
draulic Method." For the better apprehending of this, perhaps it 
will be desirable to explain that in nearly all the mining districts 
there are immense deposits of water-washed gravel, forming whole 
ridges and hills many hundreds of feet high. These have been 
placed there by agencies not existing in the present day ; but how 
they came, or when, is left entirely to the geologist or mining 
expert. I do not know this, nor do I know any one that does. 


That they are there, and that they contain auriferous gravel 
in untold abundance, is beyond any doubt; and it is with these, 
and the methods of extracting the precious metal therefrom, that 


we now have to do. Additional interest may accrue from the 
fact that, owing to the wonderful efficiency of hydraulic mining, 
and the accredited filling up of navigable streams from the 
" slickens " or gravel floated therefrom, their working has been 
legally estopped by the courts. 

Water, being the great working force in all placer mines, 
was especially needed to tear down these mountains of gravel, 
and wash out the gold ; consequently, all sorts of canals, flumes, 
and ditches were constructed, for conveying that invaluable ele- 
ment from living streams to the mining districts, at an enormous 
expense. Once upon the i-idge it was distributed from the main 
canal by hose, or in smaller ditches, to the diflerent mines, where 
it was run into a sheet-iron pipe, largest at the upper end, and 
there confined; so that the entire weight of the inclosed water, 
frequently having hundreds of feet of vertical pressure, escaping 
through a nozzle at the lower end, like a fireman's pipe, tore down 
the gravel with tremendous force, and caused immense masses, 
frequently many scores of tons in weight, to " cave down," and 
not only break themselves to pieces by the fall, but frequently to 
bury the too venturesome miner underneath them. Sometimes 
tunnels are driven far into these gravelly deposits, and hundreds 
of kegs of blasting powder are simultaneously exploded, to shake 
the banks into pieces, so that the gravel may be more effectually 
washed Ijy tlie water. Frequently over a thousand miner's inches 
of this element are brought to play, steadily, upon these " Hydrau- 
lic Mines." After several weeks have been consumed at this, a 
"clean up " is made, the results "bagged," and sent by express 
to the San Francisco Mint. It can readily be seen what vast 
quantities of this material would be annually run into the beds 
of tributary streams, the tendency of which would be to choke 
them up, and force an overflowing flood both of water and sedi- 
ment upon the low adjacent lands. 


This consists in extracting the precious metal from quartz, 
which is the principal matrix for gold (although not the only one), 



the ledges or veins of which sometimes extend several thousand 
feet down into the earth. Indeed it is more than probal^le that 
from this source nearly all the gold found in placer mining has 
originally come ; as the action of air, water, sunshine, frost, and other 
elements have disintegrated the matrix containing the gold, and 
set the precious metal free. Heavy rains and great floods have 
washed the lighter silica into the water-courses, and thence to the 
valleys, thus forming the soil and gravel that has buried up the 
gold ; and it was here that the early gold miner found his reward- 
ing treasures. 

Quartz ledges, or vems, are readily discoverable by their 
white crests or belts cropping above or mapping the hills ; it must 
not, however, be supposed that each and ever}^ one of these pos- 
sesses an inexhaustible mine of untold wealth; far from it. Like 
true worth in humanity, it is not self-assertive prominence that is 
the unerring augury of excellence, as the boldest fronted are 
proverbially of the least intrinsic value. The richest of gold -pro- 
ducing veins are those which are generally without distinguishing- 
features outwardly, and are composed of what miners call " rot- 
ten quartz." From this material (but not from this only by any 
means) much of the wealth in and from California, and elsewhere, 
has been and is being produced. 

When gold is found in bits of quartz lying on the surface 

(and by these nearly all the 

richest veins have been dis- 
covered), they are ground 
tine in a mortar, and washed 
in a horn spoon, or miner's 
pan; and when the ''pros- 
pect" is deemed encourag- 
ing, its fortunate discoverer, 
under the uniformly (though 
not invariably) correct im- 
pression that quartz ledges grow richer in proportion to the depth 
attained, commences 




To "sink a shaft" (this being a perpendicular opening in 
the earth, usually from four to six feet in width) the same ap- 
pliances are used as in sinking a well, which it very much resem- 


bles. As quartz ledges are seldom vertical, instead of the so-called 
shaft, an opening is frequently made on the top, and the work con- 
tinued directly upon it, as here illustrated. Of course all these 
were the earlier and more primitive plans for obtaining gold from 
the matrix, whether it be quartz, talcose or schist slate, greenstone, 
soapstone, or any other gangue ; and only prepared the way for 
the vast enterprises which subsequently followed, whose results 
were known only by the millions of dollars extracted annually 
from a single mine. 

The principle of separating the precious metals from the 
matrix in which they are found, is, substantially, the same in all 
cases ; their treatment only differing according to the presence and 
extent of the baser metals; and it is simply this: The matrix* 
whether it be quartz or any other, is I'educed to as fine a powder 



as possible by pulver- 
ization, when the gold 
naturally falls out ; 
this being also fine, 
might be carried off 
by the water used in 
a wet battery, to as- 
sist its manipulation 
there ; but, to prevent 
it, as quicksilver and 
gold (and other metals 
also) have a remark- 
able affinity for each 
other, the former met- 
al is placed within the 
battery, on copper 
plates below it, and 
on other places where 
connection with the 
two affinities can be 
assured, and the gold 
retained. The quick- 
silver is then separated from the gold by forcibly squeezing it 
through buckskin, whei-e the gold is retained. This is now called 
" amalgam," from which any quicksilver still remaining is sepa- 
rated by retortion, before the gold is melted into bars. The ex- 
planatory digression, here presented, is intended to assist the 
stranger in traveling, understandingly, through the gold mining 
districts ; and, it is hoped, give additional interest to the sights to 
be witnessed while passing over it. 

Hornitos (Spanish for little oven), is the first mining toNATi 
entered in Mariposa County ; which, being originally settled by 
Mexicans, and still having numerous representatives of that na- 
tionality, has more the appearance of a Spanish than an Ameri- 
can town. Its quartz ledges, however, are now attracting other 



classes of residents thither, who are gradually changing its char- 
acteristics. Whatever changes may come to its people there 
will never be any serious questioning as to the appositeness of its 
name — unless it could be made to express something a little hot- 
ter 1 This place is only about eight hundred and fifty feet above 
sea level.- 

A few miles easterly of Hornitos we enter upon the once 
famous "Fremont's Mariposa Grant;" and, as one passes through 
the various settlements that have been made upon it, how memory 
reverts to the busy hum of mining and of mining life that once 
pulsated through the great arteries of this mineral aorta, giving 
to it a strength of purpose that brought a pi-osperity which became 
proverbial. It has long been a subject of legitimate discussion, 
however, whether or not the best interests of this entire region 
would or would not have been best subserved, had the Fremont 
gra.nt never been floated upon this mining district; notwithstand- 
ing the large sums of money that have been expended here at dif- 
ferent times, by the various companies that have represented that 
ownership (for it has always been in some kind of financial or 
managerial trouble). From the Benton Mills on the Merced to 
Mormon Bar on Mariposa Creek, such towns as Bear Valley, Agua 
Fria, Princeton, and Mariposa, prove that the elements of success 
have been, and there can be no doubt are still here, and only 
await favorable development to bring back the halcyon days of 
yore, although nmch of the cream has been taken from the placer 

As we ride along we can see that every gulch, ravme, or flat 
upon the way, bears the unmistakable scars of an active mining 
life, and gives unmistakable evidence that a miner's labors, if they 
bring prosperity to himself and family, and make acceptable ad- 
dition to the country's wealth, invariably bring desolation to the 
landscape; yet, even this, is relieved by cultivated gardens, 
orchards and vineyards, near and among the settlements ; while 
Mount Bullion, "the backbone of the county," and its timbered 
spurs, attract attention by their scenic boldness. From the north- 


ern crest of this ridge some of the vertical cliffs of the Yo Semite 
are distinctly visible, although some forty miles distant. 

But here we are in the county town of Mariposa ; its court 
house, hotels, stores, livery stables, printing offices, schools, churches 
and numerous shops, tell at once that it is still the active center 
of business for the main portions of the county. And although 
its people have had to contend with marauding Indians, submit 
to the desolating losses of fire at sundry times, and bear their 
share of the customary ups and downs of life, they never seem to 
have been discouraged. That the reward may come in the in- 
crease of business a thousand-fold is the writer's heartiest and 
most devout wish. After saying a pleasant good-bye (and I never 
knew any other), as soon as we reach the lower end of town we 
pass a qaartz mill of some forty stamps, now unused; and at the 
outskirts of the town, we can see covies of cpxail running hither 
and thither in every direction. 

THE CALIFORNIA QUAIL (Perdix Galifomica). 

This beautiful bird abounds throughout California; if we 
except districts destitute of shrubbery, and the higher mountain 
region. It is a little larger than the quail of the Northern and 
Western States, but as a tid-bit for the epicure is not fully its 
equal ; its habits making the flesh harder and tougher. Fi'om 
their great plentifulness, in many sections, there is no difficulty 
in procuring them in large numbers for market. They can be 
partially tamed, when kept in capacious cages, or in inclosures 
where they can get to the ground; they will then lay their eggs, 
and rear their young, like the common fowl. Their fecundity is 
remarkable; a single female, domesticated by a friend of mine, in 
a single summer, laid the astonishing number of seventy-nine eggs. 
She was, moreover, very tame, and would eat from the hand of her 
mistress, although invariably shy to strangers. Sometimes the 
male bird was very pugnacious for several days together, when 
her ladyship had to take refuge in a corner, or seek the protection 
of a tea-saucer, from which they were daily fed. 

The valley cpiail must not be confounded Math that of the 




mountain, or with the large mountain quail, as there are three 
species, the former being the smallest, and the latter the largest of 
the three, and very rare. The former, moreover, carries his tremu- 
lous top-knot, which generally consists of six feathers, though ap- 
pearing as one, forward ; while those of both the other two trend 
backward ; and it is not a little singular that while California quail 
carry their top-knots as indicated, that of the Mexican quail 
spreads out like a fan on the center of the head. In autumn they 
become gregarious, as numerous distinct flocks or families unite; 
the aggregate of which sometimes amounts to over one hundred ; 
but, even then, as in spring, they always go in pairs. 

Our road now runs down Mariposa Creek, past quartz ledges, 
and placer mines, to Mormon Bar ; where it commences to ascend 
the hills at an easy grade, for several miles, among buckeye bushes, 
^sculus Calif ornica; greasewood, Ceanothus cuneatus ; leather- 






wood, Fremontia Oalifoimica; and white post oaks, Qv,ercu8 

Just about dark one evening as three of us were jogging along 
this road (we had a camping outfit with us), and anxious to ob- 
tain necessary feed for our animals for the night, we stopped at 
the gate of a wayside house, at which stood a boy who had evi- 
dently, on that very day, 
been invested in a new 
suit of clothes, and felt 
the dignity of such a 
rare event correspond- 
ingly. One of our party, 
in the most conciliatory 
of tones, inquired of this 
scion of the household, 
"Has your father any 
barley or oats he can sell 
us?" "Don't know." 
' Is he anywhere about 
that we could ask him ? " 
"Don't know." "Is 
there any one in the 
house — your father or 
mother, or sister, or 
brother — that we could 
ask?" "I don't know 
— I don't know nuffink." Being such a remarkable boy we took 
his portrait, and herewith present it, for his own recognition and 
future stud}^ ! 

When riding upon nearly every highway in California, there 
can be seen a brilliant-coated woodpecker, flitting hither and 
thither ; the red, white, and black of his plume glinting brightly 
in the sunshine. It is the red-headed woodpecker ( Mela ner pes 
formicivorus). The Spanish people here call it El Carjnntero, 
or Carpenter Woodpecker, from his singular habit of boring into 




THE EKD-HEADED \yooDFy,CKX.R ( Melane7-pes /ormicivoitis. ) 

the bark and dead wood of trees for the purpose of storing away 
acorns. The rapidity with which his busy head moves, and the 
rattUng scrape of the sound given out, tell of his unmistakable 
earnestness in taking care of the harvest. The entire trunks of 
pine trees, to the height of thirty feet, are sometimes dotted with 
the result of their labors. And it is not a little singular that, 
after the hole is made in the bark or wood, its exact measure is so 
carefully taken that, when an acorn is selected to insert in it, a 



mistake is seldom made in the size, to insure its fitting so snugly 
that not even the pilfering jays can take it out, when once 
driven in. 

The red-headed woodpecker, contrary to the habits of birds, 
provides for future emergencies; and from instincts of its own, 
anticipates some coming want, and prepares for it accordingly. 
It is an open question, however, whether or not the acorn forms 
part of its food ; or is only the treasury of an insect possessing 
essential qualities for the woodpecker's existence, when such are 
unattainable elsewhere; some contending for the former, while 
others as persistently insist upon the latter. The same habit is 
possessed, though not to the same extent, V)y the Melanerpes 
erythocephalus, east of the Rocky Mountains. 

Our ride for many miles now is among or over gentl}" roll- 
ing gravelly hills, covered with a light growth of shrubbery and 
white post oaks; where nearly all the available flats, or small 
valleys on streams, have been converted into grain flelds, or gar- 
dens and orchards, so that numerous little tenements add variety 
to the journey. Farther on, the stately pines once tempted the 
erection of saw-mills, one of which, WJiite & Hatch's, became 
famous for its excellence as a lunch house for Yo Semite tourists. 
These industries made the road lively by the coming and going 
of teams, either with supplies up for mining settlements and 
ranches, or with luiidDer down for the cities and towns. 

Finally we reach Conway's at Cold Spring (where an excel- 
lent meal and good bed can always be obtained), and here com- 
mence the ascent of Chow-chilla Mountain. In five and a quarter 
miles, from Conway's to the summit, we make a rise of two thou- 
sand four hundred and seventy-nine feet. But the many beauti- 
ful live-oaks, Quercus chrysolepis; black oaks, Q. Kelloggii; yel- 
low pines, Pinus ponderosa; sugar pine, P. Lambertiana; and 
red cedar, Lihocedrus decurrens, that throw their welcome shadows 
on the road, or allow of openings between them to aflbrd glimpses 
of the charming scenery beyond, beguile every mile and moment 
of tlie way. And when once upon the summit what a tree feast 
is here provided, which continues all the way to "Wawoua. 


Reveling in memories of such a luxuriant growth one cannot 
wonder that the great newspaper genius, Horace Greeley, should 
thus write about it: — - 

Here let me renew my tribute to the marvelous bounty and beauty 
of the forests of this whole mountain region. The Sierra Nevadas lack 
the glorious glaciers, the frequent rains, the rich verdure, the abundant 
cataracts of the Alps; but they far surpass them — they surpass any other 
mountains I ever saw — in the wealth and grace of their trees. Look down 
from almost any of their peaks, and your range of vision is filled, bounded, 
satisfied, by what might be termed a tempest-tossed sea of evergreens, fill- 
ing every upland valley, covering every hill-side, crowning every peak, 
but the highest, with their unfading luxuriance. That I saw, during this 
day's travel, many hundreds of pines eight feet in diameter, with cedars 
at least six feet, I am confident; and there were miles of such, and smaller 
trees of like genus, standing as thick as they could grow. Steep mount- 
ain-sides, allowing these giants to grow, rank above rank, without obstruct- 
ing each other's sunshine, seem peculiarly favorable to the jjroduction of 
these serviceable giants. But the Summit Meadows are peculiar in their 
heavy fringe of balsam fir, of all sizes, from those barely one foot high to 
those hardly less than two hundred, their branches surrounding them in 
collars, their extremities gracefully bent down by the weight of winter 
snows, making them here, I am confident, the most beautiful trees on 
earth. The dry promontories which separate these meadows are also 
covered with a species of spruce, which is only less graceful than the 
firs aforesaid. I never before enjoyed such a tree-feast as on this wearing, 
difficult ride.* 

*Mr. Greeley being in a hurry (this had become habitual with him), and 
anxious to see as much as possible in the limited time he had allowed himself, rode 
from Bear Valley to Yo Semite, over sixty miles, in a single day, or thereabouts; 
thirty-eight of which were on the back of one of the hardest trotting mules in 
America; and as he had not been in the saddle for thirty years, was somewhat 
inclined to portliness, and the possessor of a cuticle as tender as that of a child, 
there was but little of the uuabrased article left, when he arrived in the valley at 
one o'clock the next morning. His suffering must, therefore, have been intense; 
and, being utterly helpless, he was carefully lifted from the saddle, his comfort 
cared for as much as possible under the circumstances, and, at his own request, 
put supperless to bed. Just before noon of the day of his arrival, he was 
assisted from his couch, and, as he had speaking engagements to fulfill, after a 
light breakfast, taken as distinguished guests are honored with a toast, he was 
again lifted into the saddle, and without seeing any of the great sights beyond 
the hotel, made a returning ride of twenty-four miles, to ("lark's. He was seeu 
by xhe writer, in San Francisco, some three weeks afterwards shuffling along the 
sidewalk, slowly; and when allu.sion was made to his too evident lameness the re- 
sponse came: "Oh! Mr. H., you cannot realize how much I have suffered from 
that jauut to the Yo Semite." To speak gloAvingly, therefore, of anything, after 
such an experience, proves Mr. Greeley to have been more than an ordinary man. 



Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. 
Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day. 

— Earl of Chesterfield's Letters to his Son. 

Wherefore did Nature pour her bounties forth 
With a full and unwithdrawing hand, 
Covering the earth with odors, fruits, and flocks. 
But all to please and sate the curious taste? 

—Milton's Crnnus. 

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale 
Her infinite variety. 

— Shakespear's Anthony and Cleopatra. 

A glance at the outline map of routes will show that our 
course is via Stockton and Milton; just the same, so far, as that 
via the Calaveras Big Tree Groves; but, just beyond the Reservoir 
House and reservoir, our road trends to the right, through Cop- 
peropolis — so named from the immense deposits of copper ore once 
found here, the extraction of which employed many hundreds of 
men. Now its deserted streets and decaying buildings tell the 
sad story that the copper mines are no longer worked ; and suggest 
the business stagnation that ensued. But the coachman's cheery 
"All aboard" will cut short any sympathetic reveries at the 
change, and keep us rolling on among white post oaks and bull 
pines, until we reach Byrne's Ferry at the Stanislaus River. It 
is simply presumable that the name " Byrne's Ferry" will ever be 
continued, although a substantial bridge made this a polite fic- 
tion of the past a score or more years ago. 

Here, however, we see disconnected parts of a mountain of 
volcanic origin, which to appearance is " as level as a table," 

and which is called by everybody living near it, Table Mountain. 



From San Francisco, via Stockton, Milton, Chinese Camp, and Big Oak Flat, to 

Yo Semite Valley. 

Stations marked {a) are stopping places at night for stage passengers; those marked (J>) are 
hotels, or where meals can be had; those marked (c) are where hay and grain are obtainable; 
those marked (a?) are stage stations. 


Distances in Miles. 


5 ^ 


Sy Raihoay. 

From San Francisco to — 

Lathrop, junction of the Central Pacific with the Southern Pa- 
cific Railroad (/;) 

Stockton, on Central Pacific Railroad (a b c d) 

jSIilton, on Stockton and Copperopolis Railroad (bed) 

By Carriage Road. 

From Milton to — 

Reservoir House (I) c) 

Copperopolis {bed) 

Byrne's Ferry Bridge, Stanislaus River 

Goodwin's, Table Mountain Pass (bed) 

Chinese Camp (abed) 

Moffitt's Bridge , 

Keii h's Orchard and Vineyard 

Stevens' Bar Ferr^- . 

Culberton's Vineyard (c) 

Priest's ilole\(abcd) 

Big Oak ¥\0Lt(be) 

Grovelandf licJ 

Second Garrote 

Sprague's Ranch ('(5 f) 

Hamilton's Ranch (bed) 

Colfax Spring, Elwell's (be) 

South Fork Tuolumne, Lower Bridge 

Hardin's Ranch (c). 

South Fork Tuolumne River, Upper Bridge 

Crocker's Ranch (be) 

Hodgdon's Ranch ^i^cj. . 

Toulumne Big Tree Grove 

Crane 'S\aX(bc) 

Tamarack Flat . 

Gentry's (deserted) 

Junction of Big Oak Flat and Coulterville Roads 

Leidig's Hotel, Yo Semite Valley (abed) 

Cook's Hotel, Yo Semite Valley (abed) 

Barnard's Hotel, Yo Semite Valley (abed) 


1 .24 

I .07 




94 03 


57 24 

32 45 
28. oC 







By railway . . 
By carriage road . 

.133.05 miles. 
. 91.28 " 

Total distance 224.33 miles. 




It is a superincumbent mass of volcanic trap that is supposed to 
have commenced its outpour near Shaw's Flat, Tuolumne County ; 
and, flowing into the channel of an old river, followed its sinuous 

From Near Byrne's Ferry. 


course for over twenty miles; but since that time, the hills that 
once formed the banks of the stream have been washed and worn 
down many hundreds of feet, so that they are far below the 
surface of the lava, forming the top of Table Mountain, leaving 
its bold and vertical walls towering far above all. Immense rifts, 
shaken in it at sundry times, have enabled the present Stanislaus 
River to force openings through it, and to tear away whole sec- 
tions ; hence the broken links in this chain of lava. 

Many years ago some very rich auriferous gravel was found 
in the old river bed underneath this singular volcanic deposit, and 
tunnels were run into it in every direction for the purpose of 
" tapping " the paying strata, (one of which was driven nine 
hundred feet through solid rock, and upon which three thousand 


seven hundred and fifty -six days' labor were expended, additional 
to the cost of tools, blasting powder, etc.). How far these enter- 
prises became remunerative is still wrapped in mystery; but suflS- 
cient information was allowed to escape to induce a numerous 
following of such examples. 

After crossing the Stanislaus River our road winds gradually 
up the hill, whence fine views are obtained of that picturesque 
stream, and the numerous broken walls and bolder points of 
Table Mountain, among which Goodwin's Vineyard is most 
charmingly situated. Just before arriving at the entrance gate, 
however, we shall find the portrait of a Chinaman and his pack, 
upon their travels, painted upon a sign, containing this inscription 



Is a beautiful orchard and vineyard, fenced in mainly by volcanic 
bombs from Table Mountain, by which it is surrounded. Its 
well kept and weed-free grounds bespeak a becoming pride in 
their owner ; and the temptingly bright oranges, luscious peaches, 
large and delicious grapes, pure home-made California wine, and 
the refresning shade of unbrageous fig-trees, are suggestively in- 
Adting of a brief yet delightful visit. From the ridge beyond this 
a large, plain-like country, once covered Avith miners, stretches far 
away in every direction, on one side of which stands 


Now it must not be supposed that the name found to belong 
to this once prosperous mining settlement implies that it is in the 
exclusive possession of natives of the Flowery Kingdom. Far 
from it, inasmuch as they are now largely in the minority. It is 
true, however, that nearly every mining town in California has a 
liberal representation of this class, and it is also true that the 
number found here in early days was far in excess of that gener- 
ally found elsewhere ; as it was a kind of head-quarters, especially 
on Sundays, for all Chinamen living within a radius of many 
miles. This g-ave the town its name. 



Every village, town, or city, in California, moreover, wherein 
the Chinese congregate, has its " Chinese Quarter." They never 
attempt, socially, to intermix; and, unlike other nationalities, a 
Chinaman never drops his distinctive habits, manners, customs, 
dress, or manner of living, to adopt those of a people by whom he 
is surrounded. A Chinaman, therefore, is always a Chinaman, 
no matter where he may be. His contract with one or other 


of the "Six Companies," to which every Chinaman belongs, 

always provides that should death come to him in this strange 

land, his bones shall be taken back to his native coimtry. In 

this he is as true a patriot as any man on earth. Whatever else 




he may believe, or disbelieve, he never wavers in his allegiance to 
the land that gave him national birth. Whatever else, therefore, 
we may deny him, let us not withhold from him the just respect 
that such a noble trait commands. 


Whatsoever the Chinese may believe about God, they hold to 
the idea, whether they carry it out in practice or not, that the 
principal duty of man is to perform kindly services to each other, 
upon earth, and thus bespeak the personal good offices of their 
friends, especiall\' of their parents, in the hereafter. A little of 
this kind of philosophy incorporated into the Christain system, 


would not be (as an English gentleman once expressed himself) 
" half bad." Let us try a few good heavy doses of it as an ex- 
periment. Their "Feast to the Dead " probably originated in this 
idea, as, according to Mr. Williams, in his book upon the Middle 
Kingdom, they thus address the departed at the grave: " My 
trust is in your divine spirit. Reverently I present thee five-fold 
sacrifices of a pig, a fowl, a duck, a goose, and a fish; also an 
offering of five plates of fruit, with libations of spirituous liquors." 


When the Indians in California first saw the Chinese, there 
arose a dispute among the former as to the country to which the 
latter belonged, some contending that the Chinese were an inferior 
race of Indians from beyond the sea; and others, with equal 
pertinacity, asseverating that their eyes and facial expression 
were utterly unlike the Indians ; and that, therefore, there could 
be no tribal relationship between them. This question they all 
determined should be effectually settled, and at once; and as they 
were all agreed upon one point, viz., that if the new-comers vjere 
Indians, they could all swim ; a water test was accordingly accepted 
as thoroughly satisfactory and conclusive to both parties. 

When the spring snows were rapidly melting, and the angry 
streams were booming, a tree having been fallen across by which 
to form a foot-bridge, at an understood signal between the con- 
testants, they met a couple of Chinamen upon this bridge ; and, 
pushing them into the angry current, drowned them both ! It 
is stated that this was a perfectly demonstrative settlement of the 
doubtful point between the contestants, and decided that China- 
TYien ivere not Indians! but it is not stated, authoritatively, that 
this process of determination was equally satisfactory to the 
Chinamen ? 

Owing to convenience of location Yo Semite bound pas- 
sengers, as well as many others, generally tarry for the night at 
Chinese Camp, where they will find a brick hotel, clean beds, 
attentive service, and an obliging, wide-awake landlord, in the 


person of Count Solinsky, who has been Wells, Fargo & Co. 's ex- 
press agent here for over thirty-five years. Then there are 
numerous stores, and one of the best wheelwright shops to be 
found in any country. Here, too, once lived the large-hearted 
and gifted physician, Dr. Lampson, whose genial face, so sadly 
missed by old-timed friends, will never be looked upon again. 

Leaving " the cloud-capped towers and gorgeous palaces " of 
Chinese Camp behind us, our journey lies over rolling hills and 
flat ravines to the western side of Wood's Creek, down which our 
well-graded road winds and turns, affording grand views of a 
wildly picturesque country in every direction, until we reach the 
Tuolumne River. 

Formerly our course lay past Jacksonville, where its resplen- 
dent oaks gave acceptable shade while watering the horses, and 
for having a pleasant chat with one of its oldest pioneers, whom 
everybody familiarly called "Dave Ackerman." This little 
village is supported, mainly, by river mining (mostly monopolized 
now by Chinamen) and the placer diggings of Wood's Creek. 
Within a stone's throw of the hotel was "Smart's Garden," where 
once grew the earliest and finest of fruit; but which is now a 
desert waste, owing to its having been " worked out " by Chinese 
miners, for the rich placers of gold found there, and w^hich, follow- 
ing the course of all gold dug out by these people, was exported 
to China. A short distance above this. Keith's Orchard and 
Vineyard, one of the best cultivated in the State, and producing 
some of the choicest of fruit, were passed ; and a mile farther on, 
the river was crossed by the Steven's Bar Ferry. Now all this 
is changed, through the enterprise of Mr. J. R. Mofiitt, who has 
had a splendid combination truss bridge thrown across the 
Tuolumne River Canon, near Jacksonville, capable of supporting 
a weight of one hundred tons. This is called 


It is three hundred feet in length (having a single span of 
one hundred and sixty -five feet), twelve feet in width, is fifty feet 


above low water mark; and its floor is six hundred and fifty feet 
above the sea. As we stand upon this we are for a moment at a 
loss which to admire most, the skill and pluck of its builder and 
owner, or the beautiful scenes to be witnessed from it on every 
hand. When we see how a broad road has been hewn out of the 
mountain's side, and in all its turnings and windings preserved its 
uniformity of breadth and excellence; and then note how the 
chasm forming the river's channel has been spanned by so fine a 
structure, we are ready to accord due and admiring credit to the 
originator of the undertaking, and yet not forego the pleasure of 
looking at the beautiful scenery. By the commodious and com- 
fortable residence erected near a deliciousl}^ cold spring, it would 
seem that Mr. Moffitt expects to make his permanent home in this 
wild canon. 

After relieving one's conscience concerning the bridge, the 
road, and their builder, a clearer outlook can be had of the country, 
and a concise summary of the whole will be embodied in Mr. John 
Taylor's expressive sentence concerning it: "Skirting the Tuol- 
umne River for three miles, the scenery becomes picturesque in 
the extreme, the grand panorama ever changing, so as to keep 
tourists and lovers of nature's pristine grandeur in one continual 
ecstasy of delight." 

Leaving the main stream our course is now up one of its trib- 
utaries, for three and a half miles, known as Moccasin Creek; 
past vineyards, mines, and miners. This entire section becomes 
noteworthy from its prodigality in children's faces, seen at the 
doors and windows of its humble dwellings. One family numbers 
thirteen, another only eleven, and so on, exclusive of their fathers 
and mothers I Soon after crossing the bridge we come to Newhall 
and Cnlbertson's Vineyard (for although the former has passed 
home to the spirit-land, the name is still retained in the firm). 
This is another of those wayside tarrying places where fruit of 
the finest quality is in abundance, and where we can obtain a 
glass of the most delicious white wine to be had in any portion 
of the State. It is but simple justice to these people to say that 


their charges are not only very reasonable, but always low. 
Here the altitude above the sea, as given by the U. S. (Wheel- 
er's) Survey, is nine hundred and eighty feet. 

For the next two and a quarter miles our road is on the side 
of a mountain, covered with a dense mass of shrubbery, among 
which will be found manzanita, buckeye, mountain mahogany, 
pipe wood, Indian arrow, granite wood, and numerous other kinds; 
all of which, if cut in the proper season, ^ — November to March — 
are hard and useful furniture woods, susceptible of a very high 

You will think this quite a mountain climb — and it is. It 
will be well, however, to bear in mind that, before connnencing 
the descent toward Yo Semite, we have to attain an altitude of 
nearly seven thousand feet from our starting point ; we must, 
therefore, commence ascending somewhere, and why not here? 
It will be a task upon our patience, perhaps, but as it seems to be 
a trial of both wind and muscle to the horses, we may surely con- 
sole ourselves with the thought that we can stand it — if they can. 
Up, up we toil, many of us on foot, perhaps, in order to ease the 
faithful and apparentl}^ overtasked animals, which pufF and snort 
like miniature locomotives, while the sweat drops from them in 
abundance. In two and a quarter miles there is a clear gain in 
altitude of one thousand five hundred and seventy-eight feet, 
between Culbertson's Vineyard and Priest's Hotel. 

One quiet evening, in the height of summer, after the sun 
had set, and the deep purple atmosphere peculiar to California 
had changed to somber gray, we (the passengers) were wending 
our way up the mountain on foot, and a little ahead of the .stage, 
when a rustling sound, just below the road, startled us with its 
singular and suspicious distinctness, and dark shadowy forms 
were seen gently threading their way among the bushes. Our 
hearts beat uncomfortably fast, and we instinctively felt for our 
revolvers, but they Avere in the stage ! It should be told that at 
this time numerous robberies had been committed upon the high- 
way by Joaquin, Tom Bell, and their respective gangs. " We are 



caught," whispered one. " They will rob, and perhaps murder 
us," suggested another. " We can die but once," bravely retorted 
a third. " Let us all keep close together," pantomimed a fourth. 
" Who goes there?" loudly challenged a fifth. "A friend," ex- 
claimed the ring-leader of a party of miners who were climbing 
the steep sides of the mountain just at our side, with their blankets 
at their backs, all walking to town, and who had caused all our 
alarm ; and as he and his companions quietly seated themselves 
by the road-side, they commenced wiping off the perspiration, and 
gave us cordial salutation in good plain English. " Why, bless 
us, these men, who have almost frightened us out of our seven 
senses, are fellow-travelers!" "Couldn't yoa see that?" now 
valorously inquired one whose knees had knocked uncontrollablv 
together with fear only a few moments before. At this we all 
lavighed; and the coachman having stopped his stage, said, " Get 
in, gentlemen;" and we had enough to talk of and to joke about 
until we reached Priest's Hotel, at the top of the hill. 

peiest's hotel. 

Travelers in many lands have made frequent confessions to 
the "writer, that this unpretentious wayside inn is among the most 
comfortable and enjoyable they have ever found in any country. 
Could commendatory volumes written upon it therefore say more? 
Many, many times have I tested it, and can both conscientiously 
and emphatically indorse every sentiment uttered in its praise. 
For although it will not, I trust, be deemed out of place to say, in 
all kindness, that no traveler should expect to find meals and ac- 
commodations in the mountains of California equal to those of 
the Palace Hotel, the Grand, the Baldwin, the Occidental, or the 
Lick House of San Francisco, no one will leave this hospice with- 
out carrying aw^ay wdth him the conviction that these people are 
among the too limited number of those " who know how to keep 
a hotel;" and regretfully riding away from its hospitable door, 
leave the best of good washes behind them. What more then 
can be said? 



Now Priest's at one time had a very remarkable dog (there 
is no doubt about that fact), which wa'iters have accredited with 
the wonderful intelligence of knowing the exact time the upward- 
bound passengers were due for dinner; when he would start off 
with a bound down the hill, and, meeting the stage, would look 
steadfastly at the inside for a few moments, as though counting 
the number of people to be found there, and then scamper back 
up the hill. Instead of lying down in front of the hotel (his usual 
and favorite pastime, as well as that of other dogs), he would de- 
liberately make for the poultry yard ; and, seizing the youngest 
and plumpest of its tenants, would carry it at once to the cook, 
repeating this until the requisite number was provided ! Now, it 
might seem to be a wanton, and, perhaps, an envious act on my 
part to attempt to destroy the effect of a good story by question- 
ing its reliability in the smallest degree ; yet, I cannot resist the 
temptation of submitting, whether or not the tenderness, juici- 
ness, and flavor of the well-cooked chicken found upon the table, 
might not be somewhat in conflict with placing implicit confidence 
in that statement? But this I do know, that he would at any 
time, unharmedly, seize any fowl pointed out to him, and take it 
direct to his master. 

The commanding view from the porch, and especially that 
from the hill at the back of the house, not only presents the broad 
valleys Vjelow, with their glinting streams, and clumps of oaks, 
but the bold outline of the Coast Range bordering the Pacific 
Ocean, and all the intermediate landscape. Frequently, too, the 
whole country seems flooded with billowy clouds, over the tops 
of which peaks and mountain ranges stand boldly out in the 
transparent atmospheric strata abo\iie them. 


When leaving Priest's we must not omit to notice the evi- 
dences of mining on every hand, even if we forget the unpleasant 
fact that a miner's labors invariably bring desolation to the land- 


scape. Nor must we pass unseen the sturdy, branch-lopped, and 
root-cut veteran trunk of a noble and enormous oak, Quercus 
lobata; some eleven feet in diameter, now prostrate, on our right ; 
as it was from this once famous tree that " Big Oak Flat," the 
village through which we pass, and the route, received their names. 
Then, however, its immense branch-crowned top gave refreshing 
shadow to the traveler, and beauty to the scene. We fear that 
many a year will have made its faithful record before our virtues 
become sufficiently Christian to confess personal forgiveness to 
those who committed, or even permitted, the vandal act of its 
destruction. We take real comfort in the thought that its storm- 
beaten, dead, limbless, and prostrate form must daily administer 
stinging reproofs to every one whose act, or silence, gave sanc- 
tion to the deed. 

As we spin along among pines and firs, the deliciously 
bracing "champagne atmosphere" (as a lad}^ friend so naively 
expresses it), is quafted with a delightful and thrilling zest that 
makes itself felt through every nerve tissue of our being. Even 
the brief delay at Groveland (a bustling little mining town) to 
change the mail, only postpones the pleasure, that is renewed the 
moment we advance. 


The gardens, vineyards, and orchards that are passed only 
add agreeable variety. But, speaking of orchards; at Garrote 
(such name-givers deserved to be garroted!), the last mining 
town passed on the journey (there are several), let me caution 
you against stopping at Chaffey and Chamberlain's (two affection- 
ate and noble-natured old bachelors who have lived and mined 
together for over thirty years) ; for the large and lusciovis fruits 
they take so much pride in producing will be sure to tempt you 
to eat again (and so soon after leaving Priest's, you know), and it 
is a long way to the doctor's I Before leaving here, let me call 
especial attention to two species of beautiful oaks ; one is the weep- 
ing white oak, Quercus lobata; and the other a live oak. Quercus 


chrysolejns, as they are among the best representatives of that 
family that I have ever seen, anywhere. 


A short ascent up a somewhat steep hill, brings us to the 
ups and downs of a ridge road, with timber and shrubbery on 
both sides. The large ditch we cross several times is that of the 
Golden Rock Water Company, constructed for the purpose of 
supplying the mining towns below with water for mining pur- 
poses. This work will be seen at different times until we pass 
the "Big Gap;" where still lie the burnt fragments of a flume, 
once the pride of its engineers, as the finest wooden structure of 
the kind in the State, with a height of two hundred and sixty- 
four feet above the Gap, and a length of two thousand two hun- 
dred feet; costing the snug little amount of pocket-change of 
eighty thousand dollars. A strong wind one night told the sad 
story, that " the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglee," 
and made it a total wreck. Now, a large iron tube placed upon 
the ground answers the purpose of the flume. This only cost some 
twelve thousand dollars. An immense deposit of "tailings "at 
the " Little Gap" we are now passing, with the water-torn banks of 
a gravelly hill standing near, tell that the work of hydraulic min- 
ing has but recently ceased here. 


A little beyond this we come to a bright little home-like 
spot called " Hamilton's ;" and, while the horses are being changed, 
the opportunity will be afforded of making the acquaintance of 
its owners. Mrs. Hamilton, who is the presiding genius of the 
household (her husband probably being busy on the farm), can 
cook as nice a meal as almost any one, and by adding a little 
spice of praise to this or that upon the table (not to the cooking, 
remember, as she is too modest for that), induce you to find an 
appetite to eat it; bvit as the stage arrangements may not allow 
of such a test, she will be sure to have some kind of fruit to offer ; 
and, if that is out of season, has always a kindly word, and a re- 
freshing glass of water to give you. Try it. 


As Ave advance it is evident that the timber becomes larger 
and the forest land more extensive. The gently rolling hills 
begin to give way to tall mountains ; and the quiet and even tenor 
of the landscape changes to the wild and picturesque. An occa- 
sional deer may shoot across our track ; or covies of quail, with 
their beautiful plumage and nodding " topknots," whirr among 
the bushes. The robin, and meadow-lark, and oriole may prove 
to us that they still have a love and a voice for music ; and the 
" too-coo-"ing of the dove tells that its sweetly mournful voice 
"is still heard in our land." 


But who, in feeble language, can fully disclose the grandeur 
of the scenery that opens before us a short distance east of the 
Big Gap? When the painter's art can build the rainbow upon 
canvas so as to deceive the sense of sight — when simple words 
can tell the depth and height, the length and breadth of a single 
thought — or the metaphysician's skill delineate, beyond perad vent- 
ure, the hidden mysteries of a living soul — then, ah ! then, it may 
be possible. 

Deep down in an abyss before us is a gulf — a canon — of more 
than two thousand feet. The gleaming, silvery thread, seen run- 
ning among bowlders, is the Tuolumne River, a hundred feet in 
width. Its rock-ribbed sides, in places, show not a vestige of a 
tree or shrub. In others, its generous soil has clothed the almost 
perpendicular walls with verdure. As the eye wanders onward 
and upward, it traces the pine-clad outlines of distant gorges, 
whose tributary waters compose and swell the volume of the 
stream beneath us. To the right, surrounded by noble trees, can 
be discerned a bright speck — it is a water-fall a hundred feet in 
height and thirty feet in width. In the far distance, piercing the 
clouds, the snow-covered peaks of the Sierras lift their glorious 
heads of sheen, while a beautiful purple haze casts its broad, soft- 
ening mantle over all. Our road, shaded by lofty pines and um- 
brageous oaks, and cooled by a delicious breeze, lies safely near 


the edge of the precipice; the whole panorama rolled vividly out 
before us. It is such scenes as this that introduce such grateful 
changes to such a journey. 

Just beyond this we arrive at Elwell's, Colfax Springs; 
another pleasant little wayside house, and soon thereafter cross the 
south fork of the Tuolumne River, at the lower bridge; then wind 
our way up a long hill, over to Hardin's Ranch; and after re- 
crossing the south fork by the upper bridge, ascend another long- 
hill, and are then at the justly famous lunch house of 


The pretty little garden, bright with flowers, bespeaks a 
cheery welcome almost before we alight, and the look of cleanli- 
ness everywhere apparent prepares the way for an appetizing 
meal. There is no hurry, no excitement; a quiet wash, followed 
by the quiet announcement that " lunch is ready," and we are 
ushered into a room where a most elegant repast awaits us. It 
is but simple justice to Mr. and Mrs. Crocker, to say that their 
table is loaded with creature comforts, and in such abundance and 
variety that even the most delicate or fastidious can find some- 
thing they can relish and enjoy. There are but few places upon 
earth, if there are any, where a more excellent refection can be 
obtained, or one be more pleasantly served. 

Still our course is upward, until we have reached a long 
stretch of elevated table-land that, for timber, is not excelled in 
an}'' portion of the State. Large sugar-jjine trees, Pinus Lani- 
hertiava; from five to ten feet in diameter, and over two hundred 
feet in height, devoid of branches for sixty or a hundred feet, and 
straight as an arrow, everjnvhere abound. Besides these there 
are thousands of yellow pines, Pinus j^onderosa; Douglas firs, 
Ahies Douglasii; and cedar, Lihocedrus decurrens; that are but 
little, if any, smaller or shorter than the sugar-pines. These 
forests are not covered up with a dense undergrowth, as at the 
East, but give long and ever-changing vistas for the eye to pene- 


Mr. George McQuesten, of East Boston, measured one of 
the prostrate sugar -pine trees in this g]-ove, with the following re- 
sults: Circumference, three feet from base, twenty-one feet ten 
inches; fifty feet from base, fourteen feet six inches; one hun- 
dred feet from base, eleven feet three inches ; one hundred and fifty 
feet from base, eight feet six inches ; two hundred feet from base, 
four feet three inches ; two hundred and nine feet from base, two 
feet three inches. This might have been from twenty feet to forty 
feet higher when standing. It contained nineteen thousand five 
hundred and sixty running feet of lumber, or one thousand seven 
hundred and eighty cubic feet, after deducting ten per cent for 
saw scarfs. Value in Boston, less cost of carriage and sawing, 
$195. While thinking, and almost dreaming of forest scenes, we 
have arrived at 


These are of the same genus, Sequoia gigantea, as those of 
Calaveras, Mariposa, and other groves; many fine specimens of 
which stand by the road-side, or can be readily seen without leav- 
ing the coach ; but none can realize their large proportions without 
standing up against one, or walking around it. Besides, it rests 
us to walk a little, and adds much to the interest to touch their 
enormous sides. There are about thirty in this group, well pro- 
portioned, and excellent representatives of the class. Two of them 
which grew from the same root, and unite a few feet above the 
base, are called the " Siamese Twins." These are about one hun- 
dred and fourteen feet in circumference at the ground, and, con- 
sequently, about thirty-eight feet in diameter — of course including 
both. The bark has been cut on one side of one of them and has 
been found to measure twenty inches in thickness. Near the 
"Twins" there are two others which measure seventy-four feet 
around their base. 


One of the most striking examples of the extraordinary 
growth of this species is found in the immense stump called "The 



Dead Giant," for, although fire has entirely denuded it of its bark, 
and largely reduced its proportions, it is even now thirty-one feet 
in diameter. By the earthy ridges that form around almost every 
forest tree, it is plainly evident that this, at one time, must have 
had a circumference of over one hundred and twenty feet. For 
the purpose of enabling visitors more easily to apprehend its 
enormous size, a " tunnel " has been cut through it which is ten 
feet in width by twelve in height, and through which the stage 
coach passes when either going or returning to Yo Semite. There 
is no more convincing evidence of size than this in either of the 
groves — if we except the " Stump " at Calaveras. Within a few 
yards of this grows one of the finest and most symmetrical repre- 
sentatives of this wondrous family. 

" Excelsior " being our motto, we shall soon reach •' Crane 
Flat." These flats are grassy meadows, interspersed among the 
mountain districts, and are generally the heads of creeks or rivers, 
being almost always "springy." Of late years they are fed off 
by bands of sheep, brought from the plains when the feed there 
has become short or dry. Running upon or over trails, they are 
apt to obliterate all traces of the traveler's course, and where a 
short turn is made, great care is needed, by the inexperienced, to 
pi-event being lost. Crane Flat, kept by Mrs. Gobin, was once 
celebrated for the excellence of its meals, when horseback riding 
was the only method of reaching Yo Semite. Its wrecked build- 
ings now tell their own story of the effects of deep snow. Here 
the stage possibly changes horses, and thirsty passengers take a 
drink with Mr. Hurst (whom nearly all the old-timers affection- 
ately call "Billy Hurst"). 

One of the obstacles to be overcome for early season travel 
to Yo Semite on the Big Oak Flat Koute was the deep snow belt 
of some ten miles, lying between the Tuolumne Big Tree Grove 
and Gentry's ; the highest part of the road being seven thousand 
feet above sea level. Here snow would be from six to twenty 
feet deep. To shovel all this out was a herculean and expensive 
undertaking, while building walls of snow that reached far above 



the tops of stage coaches. Then, the glaring sheen of the sun- 
shine on a white surface was exceedingly trying to the eyes of 
the shovelers, and frequently brought "snow-blindness;" attended 
with the discomfort, and uuhealthiness, of working in wet snow 
that chilled their lower limbs while the entire upper part of their 
body was steaming with perspiration. These difficulties, there- 
fore, must be conquered by other means. But, how? That 
query brought forth another: Why not put 


This experiment was accordingly tried, and proven to be 
most eminently successful. A glance at the accompanying en- 
graving will give an idea of their form, and the manner of their use. 



The horse snow-shoe is made of one inch ash plank, thirteen 
inches long by eleven wide. It is rounded at the corners to pre- 
vent striking-, or chafing; and a hollow is cut at the back to allow 
full play to the shoe, Avithout cutting or bruising the leg. There 
are three holes mortised in the upper surface of the snow-shoe^ the 
exact size and shape of the horse-shoe calks, and which are in- 
serted therein, to keep the foot in its place, and give solidity to 
the tread. To make the snow-shoe clutch the horse's hoof snugly, 
well -fitting flat bands of Norway iron, lined with thick india- 
rubber cloth, are placed across and clip it; these meet in the 
center of the foot, where they are brought together by an adjust- 
able screw-bolt ; the lower ends of these bands pass through the 
snow-shoe, to which they are fastened by a bolt and nut, and 
become assistant tighteners of the clip. On the under side the 
snow-shoe, and additional to the bolt and nut, an irregular and 
almost heart-shaped flange of steel, about half an inch in depth, is 
riveted, nearly covering the bottom of the shoe, and which pre- 
vents sliding in any direction, while adding to its strength To 
prevent the snow-shoe from splitting, a fine bolt is run through 
each end. 

When every foot is equipped with one of tli^se, each of the 
four horses fornung the team is read}^ for the start. Now the 
interestinof essav of usino- them commences. Each animal seems 
to have an intuitive knowledge of what they are 'for, as of the 
duties expected of them ; for, carefully lifting the foot higher than 
he would under ordinary circumstances, with a somewhat rotary 
and semi-oscillatory movement, he throws the foot forward, and 
one shoe over the other, with such intelligent dexterity that they 
rarely touch each other; and invariablj^ manages to take the 
front snow-shoe out of the way, before setting the hind one in its 
place. There is no confusion or even awkwardness in their use, 
although there is in appearances when seeing horses in sui-h un- 
gainly-looking appendages. 

I speak from personal ol»servation, aftei- several delightful 
sleigh rides over that snow-l)elt with Joe Mulligan (we all know 


him by that unpretentious and famiHar cognomen only), whose 
patient care, skill, and watchful management of his horses, under 
the most trying circumstances, occasionally, elicited my warmest 
a<lmiration. The gait uphill was a quiet walk, at the rate of 
about three miles an hour, performed with no more excitement or 
friction than a heavily-laden team would use, in moving its Ic^ad 
upon a level road. Downhill we frequently took a short trot, 
and which, like the walk uphill, was accomplished without 
clumsiness. The time generally consumed in crossing the ten 
miles of snow was about three and a half hours. 

To illustrate how much such pioneer path-finders over snow 
have sometimes to endure, it is only necessary to sketch a single 
" first trip of the season." There were three strong men. Mulli- 
gan, Billings, and Wood, who left Crocker's early one April morn- 
ing for Crane Flat, some six miles distant, with a coach and four 
good horses, sleigh, horse snow-shoes, shovels, axes, ropes and 
other desirable accessories for such an enterprise. Deep new 
snow had made progress exceedingly slow and difficult. At two 
o'clock on the following morning they succeeded in reaching the 
point designated, but no signs of buildings were visible in all the 
snowy waste. They could see large hillocks of snow, but no place 
wherein to shelter themselves and horses. Finally, as day was 
breaking, they found the bearings of the stable door ; and, weary 
as they were, commenced shoveling aw^ay the feathery element in 
front, in order to give their tired animals a place of refuge, and 
necessary food. An entrance to the stable was eventually secured ; 
but, as the snow was some eighteen feet in depth, and a passage- 
way down to the floor would be the work of many industrious 
hours, they led each horse, separately, as near as possible to the 
opening effected ; when, by fastening one rope around the head, and 
another to the tail of each animal, they lowered them into their 
quarters for the night, by sliding them down over the snow ; and, 
being too tired to eat, the men rolled themselves up in their 
blankets, and forgot the fatigues of the day in refreshing sleep. 

About ten o'clock A. M., they found themselves outside of 


their breakfasts (as they expressed it), and were agaiu upon the 
snow — one might have said the road, but that lay from sixteen to 
twenty feet below the surface. Spending- this day also in weary- 
ing and unflinching effort, they only broke the way to the top of 
the ridge, some two and a half miles distant, and then returned 
to their inhospitable quarters at Crane Flat for that night also. 
On the followins: da v thev again, undauntedly, set their own and 
horses' faces towards Yo Semite, still some sixteen miles distant. 
Its mountain peaks, and cheery open fire-places, far down out of 
the snow, became delightfully stimulating day-dreams to them ; 
and, about nine o'clock P. M., Tamarack Flat had been gained, 
and five additional miles overcome, leaving eleven only to be con- 
quered. Here, also, the snow was as deep as at their stopping- 
place of the two preceding nights; and similar experiences in 
snow-shoveling, and horse-sliding down to the stable floor, had to 
be indulged in until long after midnight. Hungry as wolves, 
most of the remaining portion of the night was spent in cooking 
and eating, and the residue only devoted to renewing slumber. 

Notwithstanding these protracted wrestlings with their white- 
faced enemy, their motto, " There's no such word as fail," was not 
only inscribed upon their determined faces, but was written deeply 
in their wills and hearts ; and as soon as a passage-way out for 
their horses coulil be duo- through the snow, and the snow-shoes 
were adjusted to the animals, they made the crisp air ring with 
the shout, "Ho! for Yo Semite," and again started forward. On 
reaching Cascade Creek Bridge they found the snow piled upon 
it as deep and as steep as the roof of a Swiss cottage ; but, with 
shovels in hands, as defiant of obstacles as ever, they dug a path- 
way across it, led the horses over in single file, pulled over the 
sleigh with ropes, and again set out for the Yalley. Before noon 
they reached the lower edge of the snow-belt, and the solid earth ; 
where they left their sleigh, and horse snow-shoes, and by three 
o'clock P. M. were safely at the hotels at Yo Semite. Pluck, 
human endurance, and determination, had conquered a victory. 
All honor to such noble and unremitting exertion. 


Nor were these by any means the only efforts that were made 
to overcome the elemental forces in antagonism to early tourist 
travel to Yo Semite; inasmuch as Mr. A. H. Washburn, the 
energetic superintendent of the Yo Semite Stage and Turnpike 
Company, and assistants, had pressed every available man into 
service on the southern side of the great chasm ; to shovel snow, 
chop out limbs and trees that had fallen across the road, drain 
and repair the road-bed, rebuild road walls and bridges, and per- 
form all sorts of other and similar services, before coaches could 
safely and expeditiously carry passengers into the great Valley. 
Those who make the journey later, and find everything just as it 
should be, can form but a very inadequate idea of the difficulties 
that have been surmounted, the labor performed, and money ex- 
pended in these necessary enterprises. 

Two and a half miles above Crane Flat the highest portion 
of the road is reached, being seven thousand feet above sea level ; 
and which, lying upon the dividing ridge which separates the 
waters of the Tuokimne River from those of the Merced, the out- 
look from it is strikingly bold. From this ridge magnificent views 
of distant landmarks, and the snow-covered peaks of the Sierras 
open at brief intervals before us ; while timber-covered ridges and 
gorges stretch farther and farther away to the verge of the dis- 
tant horizon ; with an occasional mountain of verdureless rock, 
standing gloriously out as if to defy the further encroachments 
of those evergreen masses of pines. There does not seem to be 
a foot of ground over which we are passing that has not some 
novelty to charm us. 

The apparently omnipresent forest overarches our way ; and 
beautiful firs, Ahies concolor and A. grandis, the magnificent 
pines, P. Jeffreyi, F. ponderosa, and P. Lamhertiana; and 
" tamaracks," Pinus contorta, stand sentinel guard on every hand ; 
while patches of stunted manzanita, Arctostaphi/los glauca, with 
its evergreen leaves and fragrant waxy-like blossoms ; and several 
difterent species of Ceanothus literally loading the air with their 
perfume, and brightening the landscape with their plumes of white 


and blue, attract our attention, until, by a gentle declivity, we pass 
Tamarack Flat, down to Cascade Creek, where the water is 
dashing itself to atoms, that scintillate and sparkle in the sun ; and 
arriving at Gentry's, commence the descent of the mountain-side 
on the Yo Semite Turnpike Road. Looking down the great canon 
of the Merced River from this point, there opens before us one of 
the most magnificent and comprehensive scenes to be found any- 
where; as not only can the numerous windings of the river be 
traced for miles, as it makes its exit from the valley, but its hio-h 
bluffs and distant mountains stand boldly out. At another turn- 
ing of the road we look into the profound and haze-draped depths, 
and up toward the sublime and storm-defying heights, with 
feelings all our own, and behold Yo Semite. 

Before closing this chapter it becomes my pleasant duty to 
chronicle the historical fact, that the Big Oak Flat and Yo Semite 
Turnpike Road Company was the first ever organized for the 
purpose of extending wagon road facilities beyond the settlements 
in the direction of the Yo Semite Valley. When the great over- 
land railroads, the Central Pacific and Union Pacific, were near- 
ing completion, in 1869, the question was very properly considered 
of providing easier transit for the large class of visitors that might 
be attracted hither; and who, unlike old C-alifornians, were un- 
accustomed to horseback riding. In this emergency the residents 
of Big Oak Flat and vicinity were waited upon, and as a busi- 
ness lethargy had fallen upon that district, in the hope of its re- 
vival somewhat by such an enterprise, these people formed a com- 
pany; and the road was completed that year to Hardin's, leaving 
but about twenty -five miles to be traversed on saddle animals. 
Encouraged by the liberal patronage bestowed, this was extended ^ 
the following year to Hodgdon's ; and, during the next two years, 
to Gentry's, the northwestern corner of the Yo Semite Grant. 
As the company was not financially strong enough then to com- 
plete it to the valley, this became the terminus of the road, and 
so continued until its completion to Yo Semite, July 17, 1874, on 
which occasion over five hundred persons passed over it, in a 
kind of triumphal procession. 




Who doth not feel, until his failing sight 
Faints into tlimness with its own delight, 
His changing ciieek, his sinking heart confess 
The might, the majesty of Loveliness? 

— Byron's Bride of Ahydoa, Canto I. 

How massively doth awful Nature pile 
The li\iag rock. 

— Thomas Docbleuay's Literary Souvenir. 

All are but parts of one stupendous whole, 
Whose body Nature is, and (iod the soul. 

— Pupk's Essay on Man. 

Once within the encompassing walls of the glorious Valley, 
and the broad shadows of its mighty cliffs are thrown over vis like 
some mystic mantle, fatigued as we may be, every jutting mount- 
ain, every pointed crag, every leaping water-fall, lias a weird yet 
captivating charm, that makes us feel as though we were enter- 
ing some fictitious dreamland. Even the rainbow hues, which 
are playfully toying with the mists and sprays and beautiful 
rocket-like forms of the Poliono, or Bridal Veil Fall ; or the mani- 
fold pearly lights and shades that are intermixing and commingling 
on that marvelous promontory of vertical granite, known as El 
Capitan, distributed broadcast as they are, only enhance the de- 
lusion. There comes a feeling over us akin to sympathy in the 
thought-painted picture of Mr. Greeley, when entering the Valley 
on the eventful first moonlighted nio-ht of his visit: — 

That first full, deliberate gaze up the opposite height! can I ever for- 
get it? Tlie valley is here scarcely half a mile wide, while its northern 
wall, of mainly naked, perpendicular granite, is at least four thousand feet 



high — probably more [since demonstrated by actual measurement to be 
three thousand three hundred]. But the modicum of moonlight that fell 
into this awful gorge gave to that precipice a vagueness of outline, an in- 
definite vastness, a ghostly and weird spirituality. Had the mountain 
spoken to me in audible voice, or begun to lean over with the purpose of 
burying me beneath its crushing mass, I should hardly have been sur- 
prised. Its Avhiteness, thrown into bold relief by the patches of trees or 
shrubs which fringed or flecked it whenever a few handfuls of its moss, 
slowly decomposed to earth, could contrive to hold on, continually sug- 
gested the presence of snow, which suggestion, with difficulty refuted, 
was at once renewed. And, looking uj:* the valley, we saw just such 
mountain precijiices, barely separated by intervening water-courses of in- 
considerable depth, and only receding sufficiently to make room for a very 
narrow meadow, inclosing the river, to the furthest limit of vision. 


Our road up the Valley to the hotels, for the most part, lies 
among giant pines, or firs, and cedars, from one hundred and 
seventy-five to two hundred and twenty feet in height, and beneath 
the refreshing shade of outspreading oaks. Not a sound breaks 
the impressive stillness that reigns, save the occasional chirping 
and singfinof of birds, or the low, distant sighing; of the water-falls, 
or the b]-eeze in the tops of the trees. Ciystal streams occasion- 
ally gurgle and ripple across our path, whose sides are fringed 
with willows and wild flowers that are almost ever blossoming, 
and grass that is ever green. On either side of us stand almost 
perpendicular cliffs, to the height of nearly thirty-five hundred 
feet; on whose rugged faces, or in their uneven tops and sides, 
here and there a stunted pine struggles to live; and every crag 
seems crowned with some shrub or tree. The bright sheen of the 
river occasionally glistens among the dense foliage of the long 
vistas that continually open before us. At every step, some new 
picture of great beauty presents itself, and some new shapes and 
shadows from trees and mountains, form new combinations of 
light and shade, in this great kaleidoscope of nature; and as we 
ride along, in addition to the Bridal Veil Fall and El Capitan, we 
pass the Ribbon Fall, Cathedral Spires, the Three Brothers, and 


the Sentinel ; while in the distance glimpses are obtained of the 
Yo Semite Fall, Indian Canon, North Dome, Royal Arches, 
Washington Tower, Cloud's Rest, and the Half, or South Dome; 
all of which expressively suggest the treat there is in store for us, 
when we can examine them in detail, and enjoy a nearer and more 
satisfying view of their matchless wonders. 

Now, notwithstanding the many objects of interest we have 
passed, one thought has probably obtruded itself, and it is this, 
"Shall we ever come up to this or that mountain?" and the 
length of time consumed in the attempt would seem to give back 
the nonchalant and unfeeling answer, "Never!" There is, how- 
ever, no greater proof of the unrealized altitudes of these mount- 
ain walls than this — the time it takes to come up with or to pass 
them. But amidst all those we can possibly hear one ejaculation 
that seems to contain moi-e real satisfaction in it than any amount 
of sight-seeing just now. It is this: " Thank goodness, here is the 
hotel ! " Commending ourselves to its most generous hospitalities, 
we wish our traveling companions a teuiporary good-by, and 
prepare for the I'cpast that awaits us. 

Our creature comforts having supposably been well cared for 
at one or other of the hotels, it is natural to infer that the journey, 
having been more or less fatiguing, has prepared us for a sweet 
and refreshing sleep; yet oxperiencemay prove tliat the excitement 
attending our glorious surroundings has cast over us a stronger 
spell even than that of Morpheus, and charmed us into wakeful- 
ness, that we may listen to the splashing, dashing, washing, i-oar- 
ing, surging, hissing, seething sound of the great Yo Semite Falls, 
just opposite; or has beguiled us into passing quietly out of our 
resting-place, to look up between the lofty pines and outspreading 
oaks to the granite cliffs, that tower up with such majesty of form 
and boldness of outline against the vast ethereal vault of heaven; 
or to watc-h, in the moonliglit, the ever-changing shapes and 
shadows of the water, as it leaps the cloud-draped summit of the 
mountain, and falls in gusty torrents on the unyielding granite, 
to be dashed to an infinity oF atoms. Then, whiMi prudential rea- 


sous ii.ivc wooed us back again to our couch, we may even there 
have visions of some tutelary spirit of innnense proportions, who, 
in the e- ercise of his benignant functions, has vouchsafed to us 
his protecting- genius, and admonished the water -fall to modulate 
the depth and height of its tones somewhat, so that we can sleep 
and be refreshed, and thus become the better prepared to quaff 
the delicious diaught from this perennial fountain, that only 
awaits our waking to satisfy all our longings. 

There is a possibility, however, that for some time before we 
are prepared to sing, 

" Hail! smiling morn, that tips the hills with gold," 

The sun (hours in advance of a good honest look upon us, perhaps, 
deep down as we are in this awful gorge) may have been up, and 
painting the rosiest of tints upon the surrounding domes and crags ; 
burnishing up their ridges ; gilding trees with bright effects ; etch- 
ing lights and shadows in the time-worked furrows of the mount- 
ain's face, as though he took especial pride in bringing out, 
strongly, the wrinkles which the president of the hour-glass and 
scythe has l^een busily engaged upon for so many thousands of 


And while we are looking admiringly upon them, please per- 
mit me to hazard a suggestion that is l)orn of the experience and 
teachings of a quarter (jf a century at Yo Semite. It is this: If 
it is among the possibilities (and there may exist such a possibility 
when the sul)ject is well weighed), no matter how tempting the 
surrounding influences may be — and there is almost sure to be 
some restless, impetuous, and irrepressible spirit in nearly every 
party — if you would make yovu* visit healthful, restful, and 
thoroughly enjoyal)le, and an ever-present pleasing after-thought, 
dp vot attempt any very fatiguing excursion the first day after 
arrived. Devote it to day-dreaming and to rest; not absolutely, 
perhaps, inasmuch as a modicum of exercise is really better, in a 
majority of cases, than total inaction: but let it be an easy jaunt 
among some of the attractive scenes not very far from the hotel. 


Before satisfying our expectant curiosity, or gratifying a 
love for the sublime and beautiful through a closer communion 
with the marvelous grandeur which surrounds us, permit me to 
explain what this great Valley is, how it was possibly formed, 
and the various natural phenomena connected with it; as these 
may form interesting themes for reflection and conjecture, while 
we are wandering about among its wonderful scenes. 


It is a deep, almost vertical-walled chasm, in the heart of the 
Sierra Nevada Mountains — here about seventy miles in breadth — 
about one hundred and fifty miles due east of San Francisco, and 
thirty from the main crest of the chain. Its sides are built of a 
beautiful pearl-gray granite of many shades and colors, and are in 
an infinite variety of forms. These are from three thousand three 
hundred to six thousand feet in perpendicular height above their 
base. Over these vertical walls vault numerous water-!"alls, that 
make a clear leap of from three hundred and fifty to two thousand 
feet; besides numerous bounding cascades. 

The altitude of the floor of the Valley is nearly four thousand 
feet al)()ve tlie level of the sea, and the measurements given of the 
surrounding clifi's and water-falls are mostly from this basis. Its 
total area within the encompassing walls, according to the report 
of the Commissioner of the General Land Oftice, Washington, 
D. C, comprises eight thousand four hundred and eighty acres, 
three thousand one hundred and nine of which are meadow land. 
The entire grant to the State, however, embraces thirty-six thou- 
sand one hundred and eleven acres, and includes one mile beyond 
the edge of the precipices throughout their entire circumference. 
The Valley proper is al)out seven miles in length, by from three- 
quarters to one and a half miles in width ; yet the distance between 
the face of the cliii" at the Yo Semite Fall and the Sentinel, ac- 
cording to the measurements of Prof. J. D. Whitney, is two and 
a half miles. The Merced River, a beautifully transparent stream, 
full of delicio\is trout, runs through it. with aniiverage width of 




one hundred feet, and whose banks are ornamented with azaleas 
and syringas, and overarched with bahn of gileads, alders, black 
oaks, pines, cedars, and silver firs. This has numerous tributaries, 
which, after leaping the clifi's, join it in its general course down 
the Valley. 

The general trend of the Valley is northeasterly and south- 
westwardly, a fortunate circumstance indeed, inasnmch as the de- 
lightfully bracing northwesterly trade-winds, which sweep the 
Pacific Ocean in this latitude during summer, course pleasantly 
through it, and keep it exceedingly temperate on the hottest of 
days; so that there is no sultry oppressiveness of atmosphere felt 
here, as sometimes at the East. Besides this, the sun is afforded 
the opportunity of looking into the Valley from before six o'clock 


in the morning until nearly five in the afternoon, during- summer, 
instead of only an hour or two at most, had its bearings been 
transversely to this. In the short days of winter, however, as the 
hotels and other buildings are for the most part approximately 
nearest to the southern wall of the Valley, when Apollo goes 
farthest on his southern rambles, he looks down upon them over 
the mountain about half past one in the afternoon, and vanishes 
at half past three; thus deigning to show his cheerful face only 
about two hours out of the twenty-four; so that the hotel side of 
the Valley, so to speak, is mapped in mountain shadow, while the 
opposite or northern side is flooded with brightness 


Prof. J. D. Whitney, for many 3'ears State Geologist, thus 
expresses his views:* — 

Most of the great canons and valleys of the Sierra Nevada have re- 
sulted from aqueous denudation, and in no part of the world has this kind 
of work been done on a larger scale. The long-continued action of tre- 
mendous torrents of water, rushing with impetuous velocity down the 
slopes of the mountains, has excavated those immense gorges by which 
the chain of the Sierra Nevada is furrowed, on its western slope, to the 
depth of thousands of feet. ... 

The eroded canons of the Sierra, t however, whose formation is due to 
the action of water, never have vertical walls, nor do their sides present 
the peculiar angular forms which are seen in the Yosemite, as, for instance) 
in El Capitan, Avhere two perpendicular surfaces of smooth granite, more 
than three thousand feet high, meet each other at a right angle. It is 
sufficient to look for a moment at the vertical faces of El Capitan and the 
Bridal Veil Eock, turned down the Valley, or away from the direction in 
which the eroding forces must have acted, to be able to say that aqueous 
erosion could not have been the agent employed to do any such work. 
The squarely cut re-entering angles, like those below El Capitan, and 
between Cathedral Eock and the Sentinel, or in the Illilouette Caiion, 
were never produced by ordinary erosion. Much less could any such cause 
be called into account for the peculiar formation of the Half Dome, the 

*The Yosemite Ouide Book, page 81. 
+Ibicl., pages 82, 83, 85. 


vertical portion of which is all above the ordinary level of the Valley, ris- 
ing two thousand feet, in sublime isolation, above any point which could 
have been reached by denuding agencies, even supposing the current of 
water to have filled the whole Valley. 

In short, we are led irresistibly to the adoption of a theory of the 
origin of the Yosemite in a way which has hardly yet been recognized as 
one of those in which valleys may be formed, probably for the I'eason that 
there are so few cases in which such an event can be absolutely proved to 
have occurred. We conceive that, during the process of upheaval of the 
Sierra, or, possibly, at some time after that had taken place, there was at 
the Yosemite a subsidence of a limited area, marked by lines of "fault" 
or fissures crossing each other somewhat nearly at right angles. In other 
and more simple language, the bottom of the Valley sunk doivn to an un- 
known depth, owing to its sujjport being withdrawn from beneath.* 

The late Prof. Benjamin Silliman, of Yale College, thought that it 
was caused through some great volcanic convulsion by which the mount- 
ains were reft asunder, and a fissure formed. 

Now although I entertain the deepest respect for both those 
gentlemen, and their views, I am unable to concur in their opinions, 
for the following reasons: The natural cleavage of the granite 
walls is not, for the most part, vertical, but at an acute angle of 
from seventy to eighty-live degrees, as at Glacier Point and the 
Royal Arches ; and that of the Yo Semite Fall is not by any means 
vertical, to say nothing of the intermediate shoulders between 
such points as Eagle Tower and the Three Brothers. And al- 
though the northern and western sides of El Capitan are more 
than vertical, as they overhang over one hundred feet, the abut- 
ting angle of that marvelous mountain is at an angle of say eighty 
degrees ; while its eastern .spur consists of glacier-rounded ridges 
that project far into the Valley. With this uniform angle of 
cleavage how could the bottom of the Valley sink down, any more 
than the key-stone of an arch ? unless by the displacement of its 
supporting base ; and, to concede this possibility, is to admit the 
theory of Professor Silliman of the violent rending of the mount- 
ains asunder by volcanic co-action, which, in my judgment, is un- 
supported by convincing data. 

*The italics are my own to emphasize the substance of Professor Whitney's 


To admit this contingency, moreover, is to pre-suppose the 
entire uplifting and rending of a large proportion of the solid 
granite forming the great chain of the High Sierra; and then of 
its having left only this particular fissure to mark the co-action 
that then took place — a possible but not probable result. It is even 
more than improbable, from the fact that the solidified granite 
crossing every one of its side canons, even near to the Valley, is 
everywhere completely and visibly intact, so that there is not the 
slightest semblance of any disjunction whatsoever. To my con- 
victions, therefore, the evidences that the Yo Semite Valley was 
ever formed by either subsidence, or volcanic rending, are not 
only unsatisfactory, but are entirely absent. 

Nor is it altogether clear why Professor Whitney, after giv- 
ing his emphatic opinion that " the long-continued action of 
tremendous torrents of water, rushing with impetuous velocity 
down the slopes of the mountains, has excavated those immense 
gorges by which the chain of the Sierra Nevada is furrowed, on 
its western slope, to the depth of thousands of feet," should make 
the Yo Semite Valley an exception ; especially wlien the premises 
are so abundantly clear that it was created by precisely similar 
agencies as those of other canons — that of ertjsion. To illustrate 
this, let me call attention to some interstices in the face of a jut- 
ting spur of the southern wall of the Valley, about midway be- 
tween the Sentinel and Cathedral Spires (see engraving), known as 


One of these is several hundred feet in depth, and yet not 
over three and a half feet across it. But for its rounding edgres 
one could stand upon its top, look into its mysterious depths, and 
then step across it to the other side. There can exist no doubt that 
this has been formed from a soft stratum of granite, just the 
width of the fissure ; and as there is not the smallest stream of 
water running through it (except when it rains), as the elements 
have disintegrated the demulcent rock, every storm of wind, or 
rain, or snow, has kept constantly removing the friable particles 
and left only the hard walls standing. 

dii^iut, bj ilr» Moau 

Photo, by S. C. Waliicr 



Making this a basis of conclusions, is it not reasonable to 
suppose that there once existed similar strata where the Valley 
now is, and that as the disintegrating agencies completed their 
work ii])()n it, the denuding torrents of the Sierra swept over or 
through it, and carried off the disintegrated material to build the 
plains and valleys below? Stand upon any of the bridges which 
now span the Merced River, during high water, anrl the floating 
silica with which it is laden will be conclusive evidence that the 
same forces, on a comparatively limited scale, are still actively 
going on. 


Nor has water, in its liquefied form at least, been the only 
potential agency for cutting down and hewing out chasms like 
this among the High Sierra, inasmuch as its polished valley floors, 
burnished mountain-sides and tops, and vast . moraines, many 
thousands of feet in altitude above the Valley, prove, beyond per- 
adventure or question, that glaciers of immense thickness once 
covered all this vast area ; filling every gorge, roofing every dome, 
and overspreading every mountain ridge with ice; the trend of 
whose striations is unmistakably towards the channel of the Mer- 
ced River, mainly thi'ough its tributaries. As the Yo Semite 
Valley is but four thousand feet above sea level, and these glacial 
writings are distinctly traceable not only on the walls of the Valley 
and the clifls above it, but nearly to the summits of the highest 
mountains east of it (here over thirteen thousand feet in altitude) 
there can be but little doubt that a vast field of ice had pre-exist- 
ence at Yo Semite that was over a mile and c^ half in absolute 
thickness and depth! Who, then, can even conceive, much less 
estimate, the cyclopean force, and erosive power, of such a glacier? 
It would seem that plowing into soft rock, tearing away of pro- 
jections, loosening seamy blocks, detaching jutting precipices, 
grinding off ridges, scooping out hollows for future lakes, and 
forcing everything movable before it, would be a mere frolicsome 
pastime to so irresistible and mighty a giant. And, when that 
pastime has been indulged in for countless ages, its results may 
be imagined, but cannot be comprehended. 


This, then, in my judgment, has been no insignificant factor 
in broadening and deepening the chasm first cut here, as elsewhere, 
by water; and indicating, if not proving, that the Yo Semite 
Valley luas formed by erosion, and not by volcanic action. 


In a personal conference with Prof. Wm. H. Brewer, for- 
merly first assistant of the State Geological Survey of California, 
>now of Yale College, New Haven, Connecticut, the question was 
asked him, "In about what age of the world was the oflacial 
period supposed to have existed? " and the answer was, " This has 
not been positively agreed upon by scientists, as some think it 
was about twenty or thirty thousand years ago, others from fifty 
to eighty thousand, and some contend that nearly one hundred 
and fifty thousand years have elapsed since that time, and it may 
have been even more." As something will be said about this, and 
about the moraines of the High Sierra when we take our mount- 
ain jaunts beyond the Yo Semite, further present mention will be 


The thermometer seldom reads higher than eighty-six degrees 
in summer, or lower than sixteen degrees in winter, although it 
has been ninety-five degrees (and even then the heat was not op- 
pressive, owing to the rarefaction of the atmosphere), and nearly 
to zero — never below it. The usual ice-harvesting season is from 
December 15th to 25th, when the days are clear, and the temper- 
ature at night ranges from sixteen to twenty-five degrees; at 
which time ice fofms from six to eleven inches in thickness, and 
is then taken from the sheltered eddies of the river. A good 
quality of ice is seldom obtainable after the rains and snows of 
winter have fairly set in. 

The first fall rain generally occurs atout the time of the 

autumnal equinox, in September; but does not continue more than 

a day or two; when it usually clears up and continues fine for 

several weeks. It is after this rain that the first frost generally 
23 ® "^ 


pays its timely visit, and commences to paint the deciduous trees 
and shrubs in the brightest of autumnal colors. Early in No- 
vember the first snow generally begins to fall, when it will 
probably not deposit more than a few inches in the Valley, but 
prove more liberal in the mountains, wdiere it sometimes will leave 
fifteen or twenty inches. It was in one of these storms that Lady 
Avonmore, better know as the Hon. Theresa Yelverton, was caught, 
alone, and being lost and benighted, came near losing her life. 
A few days thereafter the delightfully balmy Indian summer 
weather sets in, and continues to near the end of December ; when 
old Winter, he with the hoary locks and unfeeling heart, swoops 
down in good earnest; and, turning his frosty key, keeps the in- 
habitants of Yo Semite — generally about forty in number — close 
prisoners until the benignant smiles of the gentle angel. Spring, 
unlocks the snowy doors, and again sets them free. 

The pluvial downpour of an average winter in Yo Semite is 
usually from twenty to thirty-three inches, and of snow from nine 
to seventeen feet. It must not, however, be supposed that this 
falls all at once, or that it ever aggregates so great a depth, as it 
keeps melting and settling more or less all the time; so that I have 
never known it to exceed an average depth over the Valley of 
more than five and a half feet. Snow possesses the wonderful 
quality of keeping the temperature of anything upon which it 
falls, about the same as it finds it ; so that if the ground which 
it covers is warm, it is kept in that condition, and the snow melts 
rapidly from beneath ; but, should the earth be frozen, it retains 
that temperature, and liquefies mostly from above. 


To enable visitors to see every point of interest to the great- 
est advantage, the State, through its Board of Yo Semite Com- 
missioners, has constructed a most excellent carriage road through- 
out the entire circumference of the Valley ; and which, including 
that to Mirror Lake and the Cascade Falls, opens up a drive of 


over twenty-one miles, that has not its equal in scenic grandeur 
and beauty anywhere else on earth. 

In addition to this, broad, safe, and well-built trails for 
horseback riding- have been made up the canon of the Merced 
River to the Vernal and Nevada Falls ; over old moraines, to the 
sunmiit of Cloud's Rest, and to the foot of Half Dome; up the 
mountain-sides to Union Point, Glacier Point, and Sentinel Dome ; 
to Columbia Rock, the foot and top of the upper Yo Semite Fall, 
and Eagle Peak, so that impressive views may be enjoyed of these 
by an actual visit to and among them. Earlier enterprises of 
this kind were inaugurated by private individuals, and tolls col- 
lected for passing over them ; but they were all subsequently pur- 
chased by the State and made free. To each and all of which 
it is proposed to make excursions in due season ; so that when the 
traveler has journeyed so far to witness these glorious scenes, noth- 
ing of importance may be omitted, that could in any measure tend 
to insure their being visited understandingly, and as intelligently 
as possible. 

As there are frequently moments of leisure that visitors desire 
to utilize, besides having wants that need to be supplied, perhaps 
it may be as well here, as elsewhere, to enumerate the various 
interests represented in the little settlement of Yo Semite. Of 
course the first to be mentioned are the 


Four when the new one now building is completed. These are 
kept by Mr. J. K. Barnard, Mr. J. J. Cook, and Mr. and Mrs. G. 
F. Leidig, each of which is generally called after the name of its 
proprietor; as, "Barnard's," "Cook's," and "Leidig's." The lat- 
ter is the first reached. Cook's the next, and Barnard's is the 
farthest up the Valley, near to the iron bridge. The latter can 
accommodate about one hundred guests; Mr. Cook, about seventy- 
five; Mr. Leidig, forty; and the new hotel is sufliciently commo- 
dious- to take care of one hundred and fifty. All of these are 
comfortable, and the prices charged are reasonable, especially 


considering their distance from market, and the shortness of the 
business season. 


When you are within this room, and your eye falls upon any 
one of the creations of his genius, you can see at a glance that 
Mr. Sinning has the rare gift of uniting the taste of the artist 
with the skill of the workman. His choice specimens of various 
woods, found in this vicinity, most admirably joined, and beauti- 
full}^ polished, are so arranged that one colored wood is made 
complimentary to that of the other adjoining it. They are simply 
perfect, both in arrangement and mechanical execution. Then, 
it gives him such real pleasure to show you, and explain all about 
his work, that his eyes, seen through a single pair of glasses, 
actually double in brightness when you admire it. Nor need you 
be afraid of offending him if you do not purchase, as he readily 
sells all that he can make, notwithstanding he is at his bench on 
every working day, both winter and summer, making and fin- 
ishing the most beautiful of ladies' cabinets, glove-boxes, etc., etc. 


Of these, there are two, Mr. Thomas Hill's, and that of Mr. 
Charles D. Robinson; the former is near Cook's Hotel, and the 
latter adjoins the Guardian's office. The moment that either 
studio is entered, the works of each pleasantly impress visitors 
with their unquestioned excellence and faithfulness to nature. 
And while every true artist is in thought and feeling more or less 
a poet, and these ethereal essences are noticeably present in, and 
breathe through every line and color of his touch, there is frequently 
as wide a difference in their treatment of the subject, as there is 
between the poetry of Shakespeare and that of Tennyson. And 
it is well that it is so, for in art, as in food, it is the rich variety 
that makes pleasing provision for all. The thought-coloring of 
Mr. Hill may differ widely from that of Mr. Robinson, and it 
does ; but in that very difference lies the secret of the measurable 
success of both. The beautiful creations of either will worthily 


occupy any picture gallery, or drawing-room on earth, slioubJ 
visitors desire to live these scenes over again when within their 
own far-off homes, by leaving with Mr. Hill, or Mr. Robinson, 
their orders for pictures. 


Of course photographs have become one of the popular lux- 
uries of the age, and there is scarcely an intelligent visitor that 
enters the Valley, who does not wish to carry home, for himself 
or friends, some souvenir of his visit; and to renew pleasant 
memories of its marvelous scenes. To supply this want there are 
two galleries established ; one, conducted by Mr. Geo. Fiske — to 
vv lom I am largely indebted for so many of the beautiful illustra- 
tions that appear in this book — who, as a man, a gentleman, 
and an artist, is in every way worthy of the most liberal patron- 
age than can be extended to him ; and the other is kept by Mr. 
G. Fagersteen, who, while being devoted to his art, is among the 
best residents of Yo Semite, and who, like Mr. Fiske, takes groups 
of visitors which embody the views around, as a background to 
the picture. There are also two other places where photographic 
views of the surrounding scenery are sold, Mr. J. J. Cook's, and 
at the Big Tree Room, Barnard's; the former having Taber's, and 

the latter Fiske's. 


For general merchandise is kept by Mr. Angelo Cavagnaro, 
an Italian; and who, you will find, has on hand almost any article 
that may be desii'ed, from a box of paper collars to a side of bacon ; 
and probably many others that neither you nor any one else may 


Mrs. Glynn is an industrious woman, who, finding it impos- 
sible to breathe the air of a lower altitude, has prolonged her useful 
life by making choice of Yo Semite as a home ; and, being a good 
cook, ekes out a frugal living by selling bread, pies, and such 
things, to transient customers; and by keeping two or three 



These are kept by Messrs. Wm. F. Coffman and Geo. Kenney, 
two wide-awake, square men, who wait upon guests at the hotel 
every evening to learn their wishes concerning the rides around 
the Valley in carriages, or up the mountains on horses, for the 
next day. When they present themselves, it will be well for 
visitors to have considered their plans for the morro%s^, and give to 
them their order accordingly ; as, by so doing, all delays, and many 
annoyances, are avoided in the morning. The charges for saddle- 
horses and carriages are determined by the Board of Commis- 
sioners. Should any irregularity of any kind occur it should be 
promptly reported to the Guardian. Additional to the gentlemen 
above mentioned, Mr. Galen Clark (one of the oldest pioneers of 
this section, and who for sixteen years was the Valley's Guardian) 
has also the privilege of conveying passengers in his carriage to 
every point of interest around Yo Semite. He will be found 
intelligent, obliging, and efficient in everything he undertakes. 


Of course when any one wishes to witness the scenic grand- 
eur visible from the mountain-tops which surround the Valley, he 
is at lib.:'rty to elect whether these trips shall be taken on horse- 
back or afoot. If on foot, he avoids all care and expense for either 
himself or his horse ; but finds it very fatiguing. If on horseback, 
a guide is needed, not only to explain the different objects of inter- 
est to be found, but to look out for the safety and comfort of 
those in his care; and to insure these, saddles have to be carefully 
watched, and adjusted, on all mountain trails. These form im- 
portant parts of a guide's duty. The day's expense for a guide 
(which includes his horse, board, and wages) is $3.00, divided 
between the different members of the party. For instance, to a 
party of six^and none should be larger than this if a guide is 
expected to do his full duty by it — the pro rata for each person 
would be fifty cents for his day's service. 

To mention even the names of the many whose kindly at- 



tentions and really valuable services as guides, have been more or 
less before the Yo Semite visiting public for the last twenty-five 
years, would make many a visitor's heart warm with grateful 
emotion, and to recall to memory the faces, and with them the 
obliging acts and excellent qualities of those who were thus per- 
sonally useful to them, in the " long, long ago." Many of these 
could be given, but the restraining fear that a treacherous memory 
might cause some to be omitted, that were equally worthy of a 
place, is suggestive of possible yet unintentional injustice, that 
is sufiiciently strong to tempt me to forego the record altogether. 

Still, there is one of the present guides whose peculiar char- 
acteristics, singular ways, and husky voice, make hin\ " the ob- 
served of all observers," whose name is Nathan B. Phillips, but 
who is better known to all the world as " Pike." Being among 
the oldest and longest in the service of any now acting in the 
capacity of guide, permit me to introduce him : — 

If, when you present this letter of introduction, he should not 
recognize the fact that vou ai-e addressing him bv his own name, 
you have only to add the proud cognomen of '"' Pike," to convince 
him that, for the moment at least, he was a little absent-minded! 
Now when Pike is himself (as once in a while he gets " socially" 
inclined) no better guide ever took care of a party ; as he is polite, 
studiously attentive without seeming so, patient, thoughtful, care- 
ful ; and there is not a peak or gorge, valley or canon, in the whole 
range of the High Sierra, within view, that is not " as familar to 
him as household words." Besides, he can trail a bear, track a 
deer, bag a grouse, and work off agonizing music from a violin 
with the best. I do not say that there are not others equally 
good, as either hunter, guide, or violinist, for that would not be 
true; and w^ould, moreover, be begging the question. I never saw 
him angry but once, and that was when a miserable wretch, 
sometimes inappropriately called a man, was abusing a horse. 
Then, in language, he "made the fur fly;" and I said. Amen! 
Once he Avas asked by a lady how the huskiness of his voice was 
brought about. "Ah," he good-naturedly responded, " telling so 




many 'whoppers' to tourists, I expect!" Pike is a Yo Semite 
character, and one worth meeting. 


When meal-times come we should feel it a great omission had 
the former been overlooked ; and when traveling on our own horse 
tells us he has lost his shoe, or in our own conveyance we find 
that a spring- has broken, a bolt is gone, or a nut lost, how gladly 
we welcome the blacksmith and his shop. Both of these are 
found in Yo Semite. 




This is near the camp-ground set apai-t by the Board of 
Commissioners for the accommodation of tliose who lea%'e the 
scorching plains below for the respite and comfort of recuperation 
in such a charming spot as Yo Semite, and come in their own 
conveyances; generally bringing their own tents and supplies Avith 
them, and camp out. As Mr. A. Harris grows and keeps an 
abundant supply of fodder, besides stabling for animals, his place 
is deservedly popular w^ith camping parties. Milk, eggs, and 
other farm products are obtainable here; and, should the bread 
burn at the camp-fire, and the yeast become sour, Mrs. Harris has 
always the remedy on hand to help strangers out of their diffi- 
culty, and that most cheerfully. Then, next to the Leidig's, the 
Harris' liave the largest family in the Valley ; both being a source 
of pleasurable pride to th(i parents. Speaking of children, it 
must not be forgotten that there is here 


It is situated on the margin of a small meadow just above 
Barnard's; with the North Dome, Royal Arches, Washington 
Tower, and Half Dome, lifting their exalted proportions heaven- 
ward, just in front of the school -house door. Then there is 


This neat little edifice, devoted to the worship of God amid 
the marvelous creations of His hand, was built by the California 
State Sunday School Association, in the summer of 1879; partly 
by subscriptions from the children, but mainly from the voluntary 
contributions of prominent members of the Association. Mr. 
Charles Geddes, a leading architect of San Francisco, made and 
presented the plans; and Mr. E. Thomson, also of San Francisco, 
erected the building, at a cost of between three and four thousand 
dollars. It will seat an audience of about two hundred and fifty. 
Mr. H. D. Bacon, of Oakland, gave the bell ; and when its first 
notes rung out upon the moon-silvered air, on the evening of Jedi- 



Eugraved by J. M. Hay, S. P 


cation, it was the first sound of "the church-going bell" ever 
heard in Yo Semite. Let us hope that it will assist to 

"Ring out the false, ring in the true, 
Ring in the valiant man and free. 

The larger heart, the kindlier hand; 
Ring out the darkness of the land, 
Ring in the Christ that is to be. "* 

Miss Mary Porter, of Philadelphia, donated the organ, ix 
memori-um of Miss Florence Hutchings, the first white child born 

♦Tennyson's Bing Out, WiM Bells. 


in Yo Semite, who passed through the Beautiful Gate, September 
20, 1881 (as recorded on pages 145, 146), to whom she had become 
devotedly attached while visiting the Valley the preceding year. 
The Yo Semite Chapel is for the free use of Christians of 
every denomination. 


Is a State officer, appointed by the Board of Commissioners, for 
the purpose of watching over the best interest of the Valley, and 
superintending the local details connected with its management, 
under the Board. To him, therefore, all irregularities of every 
kind should be promptly reported, to insure their abatement. 
From him, moreover, can be obtained information, not only con- 
cerning the rules and regulations adopted by the Board of Com- 
missioners, for the management of the Valley in the interests or 
the public ; but the best places to camp, the points most noteworthy 
to see, and the best time and manner of seeing them ; with answers 
to every reasonable question intelligent persons may ask concern- 
ing this wonderful spot. In short he will, to the best of his ability, 
be the living embodiment of a cyclopedia of Yo Semite; and that 
politely, cheerily, and pleasantly. The present Guardian of the 
Valley is Mr. Walter E. Dennison, to whom all communications 
concerning it should be addressed. His office is on the south bank 
of the Merced River, near the upper iron bridge. 


Both of these invaluable institutions, of especial interest to 
the traveling public, as well as residents, have been established at 
Yo Semite. The former opens and closes with the business sea- 
son, but the latter maintains connections with the outside world 
all the year — in summer, daily, and in winter, by a semi-weekly 
mail. Notwithstanding the unquestioned efficiency of WeUs, 
Fargo & Co.'s Express for the conveyance of valuable packages, 
Yo Semite should be made a " Money-order Office " of the postal 
service, as the M^ants of tourist visitors, as well as residents, would 
be much subserved thereby. 


Before the establishment of a postal route to, and post-office 
at Yo Semite, all letters and papers were carried thither by private 
hands; but the late U. S. Senator Howe, of Wisconsin, afterwards 
Postmaster-General of the United States, secured this great boon 
for the Valley. Through him the writer became its first post- 
master, at the enormously extravagant salary of $12.00 per 
annum, besides perquisites of uncalled-for old papers and quack 
advertisements ! But as there was then no winter service, and he 
f-ometimes paid his Indian mail carrier ten dollars for a single 
winter trip, besides board and old clothes for trudging through 
and over snow, in the dead of winter, without snow-shoes, to bring 
in the precious missives; strange as it may seem, it was not deemed 
a sufficient sinecure to incite and tempt the envious longings of 
needy politicians for its possession ! 


For many years the Valley was in telegraphic communica- 
tion with the outside world, via Sonora and Groveland; but as it 
was not sufficiently patronized after 1874 to pay for repairing the 
line and running the office, in a few years thereafter it went un- 
repaired, and was consequently unused. In 1882, however, a new 
one was constructed, by the Western Union Company, which 
is still maintained, via Berenda, Grant's Sulphur Springs, and 
Wawona to Yo Semite; so that now telegrams can be sent thence 
to every nook and corner of civilization. 


There are four different species of pine growing here: Two 
"Yellow Pines," Plnus j^onderosa, and F. Jpffreyi, with three 
needles to each leaf; " Sugar Pine," P. Lamhertiana, having five 
needles to a leaf; and the "Tamarack Fine," P. contorta, with 
only two to a leaf: " Red, or Intense Cedar," Lihocedrus decurrens: 
Three " Silver Firs," Ahies concolor, A. grcmdis, and A. nohilis. 

There is but one more of this genus found in the State, and 
that one only in a single locality (the Santa Lucia Mountains, 
Monterey County), but, owing to its beauty, and rarity, I am 



THE SILVER FIR, AUes Bracteata, Santa Lucia Mountains. 

tempted to introduce engravings of it here. All the cones of the 
silver fir grow upwards, — not downwards, like the pines. 

Of the coniferse, the next in importance, perhaps, is the "Red" 
or "Douglas" Spruce, Psudo tsuga Douglasii. Then, in resem- 
blance of foliage, its single leaves sharp as a needle, and fruit like 
a nutmeg, whence comes the name "California Nutmeg," Torrtya 
Californica. Then follows the "Black Oak," Quercus Kelloggii, 
upon the acorns of which the Indians mainly depend for their 
staple bread-stuff;* and a few of the " Quaking Aspen," Populm 

*See Chapter on Indian manners and customs. 


Drawn from nature by A. Kellogg. M. D. 

CONE OF THE SILVER FIR, Ahies Bracteata^ Santa Lucia Mountains. 


tremiuloides which came down from the mountains in the flood of 
1867. The " Balm of Gilead " Poplar, Populus halsaraifera: 
"Alder," Alnus viridis: "Rock," or " Oregon, Maple," Acer 
inacrophyllum: " California Laurel," Urribellularia Calif ornica: 
"Dogwood," Cornus Nuttallii, with its large white blossoms. 
Then follows the most beautiful of all the " Live Oaks," the 
golden-cupped Quercus chrysolepis. 


The most attractive of all, on account of the bricrht o-reen of 
its leaves, its dwarf, bell-shaped, and waxy bunches of pinkish- 
white blossoms, and the red olive-green of its smooth stems, the 
bark of which peels oft* annually, is the " Manzanita," Arctosta- 
phylos pungens. Next comes the " California Lilac," Ceanothus 
integerrimus, whose large feathery plumes of white flowers, redo- 
lent with perfume, that become so inviting to both the eye and 
nostril; with its bright sap-green bark: The "Azalea," Azalea 
Occidentalis, the fragrant masses of whose pinkish-white or yel- 
lowish-white blossoms can be "scented from afar:" The "Spice 
Plant," Catycanthus Occidentalis, that grows in such rich abun- 
dance on the way to Cascade Falls, and whose large deep-green 
and pointed ovate leaves shine in striking contrast to its wine- 
colored flowers. Nor must Ave overlook the " Chokecherry," Piu- 
nus demissa, with its gracefully depending blossoms, and fruit so 
valuable an edible to the natives; or the " Wild Coftee," Rhamnus 
Californica, whose root-wood makes such beautiful veneers. 
These, with some few others, are the principal representatives of 
the interesting shrubbery of the Valley. 


These are so numerous and so varied that but a few only can 
here be mentioned. Perhaps the first claiming attention, not only 
for its graceful tulip-like cup, and richly colored butterfly wing- 
formed petals, but from its being the flower after which this 
county was named, " Mariposa," or " Butterfly Tulip," Calochor- 
tus venustus: The " Penstemon," Penstemon latus, with its 


bright purplish-blue flowers : " Pussy's Paws," .S/v7'agruea wmhel- 
lata, whose attractive, radiating bunches clothe even sandy places 
with beauty; Hosac/cia crassifoli'i, with its singular clover-like 
blossoms and vetch-like leav^es, the young shoots of which form 
such tender and delicious greens for the Indians; the "Evening 
Primrose," (Enothera biennis, that brightens the meadows at 
eventide with its golden eyes of glory, but which closes when the 
sun looks too steadfastly into them at midday ; or its dai'k- 
purplish rose-colored twin sister, the Gorietia, that forsakes the 
moist meadow land to grow on sandy slopes. But there is such 
a fascinating charm in these delicate creations that one may be 
easily tempted to linger too long in their delightful company. 


Mr. J. G. Lemmon, of Oakland, and his talented wife, who 
have made this interesting family a loving and special study, have 
kindly sent me the following carefully prepared list of those 
found here: — 

Common Polypody, Poly podium valgare; California Poly- 
pody, J^. Calif onticum; California Lip Fern, Cheilanthes Coli- 
fornica; Graceful Lip Fern, C. gracillinia; Many-leaved Lip Fern, 
C. mi/riopJujlla; (Prof.) Brewer's Clifi-brake, Pcllcea Breweri; 
Heather-leaved ClifF-brake, Pellcea avdromedce folia; Wright's 
Cliff-brake, Pellcea Wriyhtiana; Short- winged Clifi-brake, Pellcea 
hvuchyptera ; Bird-foot C-liff-brake, Pellcea ovnithopus; Dwarf 
ClifF-brake, Pellcea densa; Bridges' ClifF-brake, Pellcea Bridgesii; 
Rock-brake, Cryptogramme acrostichoides; Conmion bracken, 
Pteris aquilina, var. lanuginosa; Venus' hair, AdiantuDi 
Capillus-veneris, California Maiden hair, Adiantuon eviar- 
ginatum; Foot-stalked Maiden hair, Adiantum pedatuni; Greek 
Chain fern, Woodwardia radicans; Lady fern, Asplenium Filix- 
fcemina, Alpine Beech fern, Phegopteris cdp)estris; Rough Shield 
fern, Aspidiuni rigidum, var. argutum; Armed Shield fern, 
Anpidium mumtum; Naked Shield fern, Aspidiuni munituvi, 
var. nuddtum, Over-lapped Shield fern, Asjndium munituni, 
var. imbricans; Sharp-leaved Shield fern, Asjndium aculeatum; 



Sierra Shield fern, Aspidiurti aculeatum, var. scojmlorum; Del- 
icate Cup fern, Cystopteris fragilis; Hairy Woodsia, Woodsia 
scopulina; Oregon Woodsia, Woodsia Oregana. 


Simple Grape fern, Botryckium simplex; Southern three- 
parted Grape fern, Butrychiuvi ternatuvi, var. australe; Virginia 
Grape fern, Botrychium Virginianum; Common Adder tongue, 
Opltioglossuini vnlgatum. 

To those who are interested in this attractive family, the above 
complete synopsis, which embraces every species and vaiiety yet 
found within and around the Valley, will be especially acceptable. 


' Are there trout in that pellucid and beautiful stream flow- 
ing past us? " inquired a somewhat fancifully dressed young gen- 
tleman wdth a distingue air, equipped with the latest patented 
fishing-rod, and a large book well fille<l with flies of the most 
approved color and pattern. 

"Yes, sir, speckled mountain trout. There are but two kinds 
of fish found in this river, or in any of its tributaries, speckled 
trout and sucker ; the former swim near the surface, ready to catch 
the first fly that comes along, and the latter float near the bottom 
of the stream, upon the lookout for w^orms, or oft'al of any kind that 
may be drifting down. Trout, as you find, are a delicious table 
fish; but no one, except Indians, wdll think of eating sucker." 

" Is there any good place near here for a little sport of that 
kind ? as I think I should like to try my hand at that sort of thing, 
you know." 

"Oh! yes, almost anywhere; they are just wdiere you can 
see and find them ; but, if they should see you first you had better 
move on to the next pool or rifiie, as you would be wasting your 
time there." 

"Oh! I thank you very much, as trout-fishing is such de- 
lightful sport, you know." 

Apparently full of ruminating anticipation, our hero of the 



rod and line sauntered leisurely along, occasionally testing the 
flexibility of his pole by whipping it after some imaginary trout, 
until he disappeared behind a clump of young cottonwoods, to be 
seen no more until dinner-time. But " when the evening shades 
prevail "-ed, the would-be disciple of Isaac Walton could be seen 
advancing slowly, and somewhat disconsolateh', towards the hotel, 
with one small, deluded trovit dangling at the end of a twig. 
Simultaneously, as if with mischievous "malice aforethought," 
an Indian walked briskly up with about as large a string of trout 
as he could conveniently carry. Now this was the additional 
feather that broke the camel's back, and our crest-fallen friend 
looked bewildered and dumbfounded. Placing his solitary eye- 
glass firmly in front of his left eye, he fixed the discomfited gaze 
of that one eye (glass) alternately upon the Indian, and then upon 
the successful " catch " that was hanging at the Indian's side; and 
as soon as he could discover that he could find a v^oice, he falter- 
ingly inquired, "What do you use for. bait? " An artist friend 

INTaiAir^-v^'rsus- A"^K" 


being present, made the accompanying- graphic sketch of this 
soul-harrowing scene. 

The general absence here of what is termed " good luck " 
among anglers, has fabricated the trite aphorism among visitors 
that, " It takes an Indian to catch trout at Yo Semite." And this 
is in a great measure true; yet, it must not be supposed that his 
uniform success in the art is altogether attributable to his superior 
skill. By no means. It is to be accredited more to his knowl- 
edge of the haunts and habits of trout, which that wonderful 
mother, Necessity, has persistently taught him from childhood ; and 
by which he learns where to find them at the different seasons of 
the year, and in the varying stages of water. This is an advan- 
tage that is unshared by the stranger. Then, the old proverb, that 
"practice makes perfect," has not a little to do with an Indian's 
invariable success, especially as his bread and dinner depend 
upon it. Admitting, hoAvever, that skill and practice go hand 
in hand with an Indian, to bring fish to his string, I have seen 
white adepts in the art that could largely discount an Indian's 
best efforts. 

The most matter-of-fact manner of catching trout among 
unskilled and unpracticed anglers, is, to cover up the hook com- 
pletely with a good-sized worm, and then cause it to float gently 
down to where he can see some suckers apparently resting on the 
bottom of the stream; and, when he sees the tempting morsel 
fairly in the mouth of his intended victim, to suddenly jerk in 
the line. Thus captured the sucker is laid carefully away until 
night-fall, when he is cut up into pieces about a quarter of an 
inch in thickness and half an inch square ; and which, when placed 
snugly on the hook, become an inviting bait to trout, which 
it readily seizes, and is himself seized in turn, to supply breakfast 
for the angler and his guests. Good fishing places, free from roots 
and sticks, and well stocked with trout, should be sought quietly 
out in the day-time. 

In early days the Indians fished only with tlu' spear (in 
which some were adepts), and with the worm ; but in these latter 


days they avail themselves of the lessons taught them by the 
whites, of using sucker as bait, and fishing at night; by which 
they are enabled to bring such large strings of trout to the hotels, 
for which they invariably receive twenty -live cents per pound. 

As it is reasonably presumable that every one before starting 
out upon any of the many interesting trips within and around 
tlie Valley, will be desirous of ascertaining not only their partic- 
ular direction and location, but the distances thereto, the follow- 
ing tables, and accompanying map, are herewith submitted. 


Before setting out upon any of our excursions around or be- 
yond the Valley, it seems desirable to state that, according to 
Lieutenant Wheeler's U. S Survey, from which much of the data 
concerning altitudes here is taken, its elevation above sea level 
as computed from the floor of the upper iron bridge, near Bar- 
nards, is three thousand nine hundred and thirty-four feet ; and 
that all the measurements of the cliffs and water-falls about the 
Valley are calculated from this basis, except where otherwise stated. 

For the purpos3 of enabling visitors to make their respective 
jaunts undei'standingly, I have thought it desirable to present the 
various points of interest somewhat in detail, and in the order 
they are generally preferred to be seen; but which order can, of 
course, be changed according to circumstances, or to individual 
taste and preference. With the reader's permission, therefore, we 
will suppose thafc we are now prepared to set out upon our glorious 
pilgrimage among the marvelous scenes which surround us, and 
are standing upon the floor of the upper iron bridge, three 
thousand nine hundred and thirty-four feet above sea level, and 
looking into the transparent waters of 


This musical and suggestive name was given to it by the 
old Spanish padres, by whom it was called Rio cle la Merced, the 
River of Mercy. And, by the way, we are much indebted to the 
poetical taste of those old missionaries for a number of apposite 


From the L uardian's Office, near the Upp:r Iron Bridge, to Different Points of 
Interest in and Arotind Yo Semite Valley, California. 


To Mirror Lake (by carriage road.) 
From Guardian's Office to — 

Indian Canon Bridge 

Harris' Residence 

Forks of Tis-sa-ack Avenue Road 

Mirror Lake . . 

//" the return is made via Tis-sa-ack Avenue, the 
distances /rom Mirror Lake are — 

Upper Forks of Tis-sa-ack Avenue Road 

1 en-ie-ya Creek Bridge 

Tis-sa-ack Bridge 

Guardian's Office 

o 95 

Tis-sa-ack A venue Drive. 
From Guardian's Office to — 

Tis-sa-ack Bridge 

Ten-ie-ya Bridge 

Harris' Residence 

Guardian's Office 

To Bridal I'eit Fall, Artist Point, and Ne-w 
Inspiration Point {by carriage road) — 
From Guardian's Office to — 

Cathedral Spires Bridge 

El Cap:tan (lower iron) Bridge 

Bridal Ved Fall 

Forks of Pohono Avenue Road 

Artist Point 

Cabin .... ... 

New Inspiration Point 

To the Cascade Falls (by carriage road). 
From Guardian's Office to — 

Forks of Big Oak Flat Road 

Black Springs 

River View 

Pohono Bridge .... 

Cascade Falls . . 

The Pohono Avenue Drii'e. 
From Guardian's Office to — 

Yo Semite Creek Bridge 

Rocky Point 

i ndian Camp 

Ribbon Fall 

Forks of Big Oak Flat Road 

Black Springs 

River View 

Pohono Bridge 

Fern Spring 

Moss Spring 

Forks of Big Tree Station Road 

Bridal V il Fall 

o 49 
2 17 
o 07 
o 19 
o o5 
o 5; 

O. ij 



1 .21 
2 . 16 

1 .67 

3 97 



3 70 

2 .92 



4 01 


9 00 
6 46 






































El Capital! Bridge 

Cathedral Spires Bridge... 

Leidig's Hotel 

Cook's Hotel 

Cosmopolitan Billiard Hall 
Barnard's H otel 

T/ie Round Drive on the Floor of the Valley . 

From Guardian's Office, via Merced, Ten-ie-ya, 

Yo Semite, and Pohono Bridges, and back 

Including Mirror Lake and Cascade Falls 

To Foot of Lower Yo Semite Falls. 

From Guardian's Office to- 
Yo Semite Creek Bridge 
Foot of Fall 

To Top of Yo Semite Fall and Eagle Peak, by 

From Guardians Office to — 

Columbia Rock 

Foot of Upper Yo Semite Fall 

Forks of Trail for Top of Yo Semite Fall 

Top of Yo .Semite Fall 

Eagle Meadow 

Eagle Peak 

To Sno7u's Hotel, by Trail. 

(Between the Vernal and Nevada Falls.) 
From Guardian's Office to — 

Opposite Merced Bridge 

Too-lool-a-we-ack (South Branch) Bridge 

Register Rock ... 

Snow's Hotel 

If the return is made via Glacier Point, the dis 
tance from .Snow's will be: 

Bridge, above the Nevada Fall 

Glacier Point . . 

Guardian's Office 

To Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome, by Trail. 

From Guardian's Office to — 

Cook's Hotel 

Foot of Glacier Point Trail 

Union Point 

Glacier Point 

Sentinel Dome 

If the return is made via Snow's Hotel the dis 
tances from Glacier Point are: 

Bridge, above the Nevada Fall 

Snow's Hotel 

Guardian's Office 














21 32 


1 .21 
1 36 



7 08 

1. 12 

o 82 
4 63 

o 49 

2 .02 

2 62 

3 24 

12 -35 

1 .04 
5 57 








■ // 


6 59 

4 61 

3 92 
2 74 
2 26 
o 90 


4. So 
4 53 
2 44 

12 53 
5 -.45 

1. 154 
I 114 













n ^ 

y ? 


n q::T. 

c S- 

3 3 


a n 

^ 3 


<;? c 


: S. 

1 o _. 

s o 

T 3 

: c 

. 3_ 

; 3 ? 

sr — < 

T^i? SiiDimit of South Dome, by trail. 

From Guardian's Office to — 

Snow's Hotel 

Forks of Glacier Point Trail 
Forks of Cloud's Rest Trail. 

Anderson's Cabin 

Foot of Lower Dome 

Top of Lower Dome 

Top of South Dome 

To Sumtnit of Cloud's Rest, by trail. 

From Guardian's Office to — 

Snow's Hotel 

Forks o: South Dome Trail. 

Hopkins Meadow 

Summit of Cloud's Rest. . . . 

To Soda Springs and Sninmit of Mt. Dana by 

From Guardian's Office to — 

Snow's Hotel 

Forks of Cloud's Rest Trail 

Top of Sunrise Ridge 

Cathedral Meadow Ridge 

Forks of Lake Ten-ie-ya Trail, Tuolumne Mead- 

Soda Springs 

Junction of Mt. Dana and Mt. Lyell Creeks. .. 

Camping ground for Mt. Dana 

Saddle, between Mt. Gibbs and Mt. Dana 

Summit of Mt. Dana 

To Smimiit of Mt. Lyell, by trail. 

From Guardian's Office to — 

Soda Springs 

Forks of Mt. Dana Trail 

Head of Tuolumne Meadows 

Summit of Mt. Lyell 

To Soda S/irings, via the Eagle Peak and Lake 
Ten-ie-ya Trail, by trail. 

From Guardian's Office to — 

Forks of Eagle Peak Trail 

Forks of Mono Trail 

Lake Ten-ie-ya 

Soda Springs 

To the Sujnvtit of the Obelisk, or Mt. Clark, by 

From Guardian's Office to — 

Glacier Point 4.45 

Too-loo-la-we-ack Creek I 2 12 

Camping Ground 7 00 

Summit of Obelisk , 2.25 




3 00 

















13 57 


I 97 


3 78 
























names that embellish the California map; su3h, for instance, as 
the Rio de Sucramento, the River of the Sacrament; Rio de las 
Plumas, the River of Feathers; Gtiidal Los Angeles, the City 
of the Angels, and many others. The view, easterly, reveals the 
"Half Dome," framed by a vista of overarching pines, cedars, 
oaks, and balm of gileads, that stand on the margin of the river; 
westerly the lofty, sky-piercing crest of " Eagle Peak " is seen 
through a similar portal, about both of which more will be said 


When about midway of the avenue, which here crosses the 
meadow, directly in front of us, looking northerly, " Yo Semite 
Point" stands boldly out, the apex of which is three thousand 
two hundred and twenty feet above us, and the view from which, 
looking down into the Valley, is very impressive. This, when 
associated with the Giant's Thumb, is called by the Indians, 
" Hum-moo," or the Lost Arrow, and connected with which is 
the following characteristic 


Tee-hee-neh was among the fairest and most beautiful of the 
daughters of Ah-wah-ne. Her tall yet s\'m metrically rounded form 
was as erect as the silver firs, and as sup])le as the tamarack pines. 
The delicately tapering fingers of her small hand were, if possible, 
prettier than those of other Indian maidens; and the arched instep 
of her slender foot was as Hexile as the azalea when shaken by 
the wind. The tresses of her raven hair, unlike that of her com- 
panions, were as silky as the milkweed's floss, and depended from 
her well-poised head to her ankles. Her movements wei-e as 
graceful and agile as the bound of a fawn. When she stepped 
forth from her wigwam in the early morning, accompanied by 
other damsels of her tribe, tc seek the mirrored river and make her 
unpretentious toilet there can be but little wonder that the admir- 
ing gaze of captivated young chiefs, and the envious looks of less 
favored lassies, should follow her every footstep. 


Then, knowing this, who could wonder at, or blame, the noble 
Kos-soo-kah, — the tallest, strongest, swiftest-footed, bravest, and 
most handsome in form and face, of all the young Ah-wah-ne 
chiefs, — for allowing the silken meshes of devoted love to intertwine 
around hiJ heart, and bring him a willing captive to her feet? 
Or marvel that the early spring flowers which she plucked for 
him were always the most redolent with perfume? Or that the 
wild strawberries which she picked, and the wild plums that she 
gathered, were ever the sweetest, because transfused by love? 
Then, who could censure him for not resisting the silvery sweet- 
ness of her musical voice, when she raise<:l it in song by the evening 
camp-fire ; or, for not withstanding the fascinations of her merry 
laugh, as its liquid cadences rung out at night-fall upon the air, 
when every note was in delicious and accordant sympathy with 
the pulsations of his own glad heart? 

And that which filled both their souls with an intense and 
beatified joy was the consciousness that the tender passion was 
unreservedly reciprocated by each. Nothing, therefore, remained, 
but to select becoming presents for the parents of the bride, in 
accordance with Indian custom,* provide a sumptuous repast, and 
celebrate tl.eir auspicious nuptials with appropriate ceremonies. 
To do this, Tee-hee-neh and her companions would prepare the 
acorn bread, collect ripe wild fruits and edible herbs in liberal 
abundance, and garnish them with fragrant flowers , while Kos- 
soo-kah, pressing the best hunters of his tribe into liis service, 
should scale the adjacent clifls for grouse, and deer, that right 
royal might be the feast. 

Before taking their fond and long-lingering adieus, it was 
agreed that Kos-soo-kah, at sunset, should go to the edge of the 
mountain north of Cholock,-f- and report the measure of his suc- 
cess to Tee-hee-neh (who was to climb to its foot to receive it), by 
fastening the requisite number of grouse feathers to an arrow, 
thereby to indicate the quantity taken ; and from his strong bow 

*See chapter on Indiaa mauuers, customs, etc. 
tThe Yo Semite Fall. 


shoot it far out that she might see it, and watch for its falling, 
and thus be the first to report the good tidings of his success to 
her people. 

After a most fortunate hunt, while his young braves were 
resting, preparatory to the exacting task of carrying down their 
game, Kos-soo-kah repaired to the point agreed upon, prepared 
the arrow for its tender mission, and was about to send it forth, 
when the edge of the cliff began to crumble away, carrying the 
noble Kos-soo-kah with it. 

Long did the loving Tee-hee-neh wait, and longingly watch 
for the signal ; nor would she leave her watchful post for many 
weary hours after darkness had settled down upon the mountain, 
although resistless premonitions and forebodings were bringing a 
deeper darkness to her heart, that were intensified by the sounds 
of falling rock she had heard. But thinking, at last, that his 
ambitious wishes might have tempted him to wander farther than 
he had intended, and finding that his signal-arrow could not be 
seen in the darkness, at that very moment he might be feeling 
his uncertain way among the blocks of rock that strewed the 
Indian Canon, down which he was to come; that possibility 
gave wings to her thoughts, and speed to her tripping feet, as she 
hurriedly picked her difficult way from ledge to ledge; passing 
this precipice, lowering herself rapidly over that, where a misstep 
must necessarily have proven fatal, until at last she reached the 
foot of the cliff. 

Finding upon her advent there that her beloved Kos-soo-kah 
had not yet arrived, her anxious yearnings for his safe return, 
made more poignant by a kind of uncontrollable prescience, led 
her to the spot whence he must first emerge. Hoping against 
hope, she could hear as well as feel the beatings of her own sad 
heart, as she listened through the lagging hours for the .sound of 
his welcome footfall, or manly voice. And as she impatiently 
Avaited, pacing the hot sand backwards and forwards, she sang in 
the low, sweet, yet impassioned cadences peculiar to her race, 
that which, when translated, should be substantially rendered as 
follows: — 


"Come to the heart tliat loves thee; 

To the eyes that beam in bright less but to gladden thine; 
Come, where fond thoughts in liuliest incense rise; 

And cherished memory rears her altar-shrine. 
Dearest — come home ! " 

But, alas ! finding that when tlie dark gray dawn of earUest 
morning brought not lier bcdoved one, like a deer slie sprang f r(^ni 
rock to rock up the steep ascent, not pausing even for breatli, nor 
delaying a moment for rest ; she hastened towards the spot whence 
the expected signal was to be given. Tracks — his blessed tracks 
— could be distinctly seen, and followed to the mountain's edge; 
but, alas, not one was visible to indicate his return therefrom. 
When she called, only the echo of her own sad voice returned an 
answer. Where could he be? The marks of a new fracture of 
the mountain disclosed the fact that a portion had recently broken 
off; and memory, at once, recalled the sounds that she had heard, 
when on the ledge below. It could not be that her heart-cherished 
Kos-soo-kah could have been standing there at the time of its fall ! 
Oh ! No. The Great Spirit would not be so unmindful of her 
burning love for him as to permit that. With agonized dread 
she summoned sufficient courage to peer over the edge of the cliff, 
and the lifeless and ghastly form of her darling was seen lying 
in the hollow, near that which has since been designated the Giant's 

Spontaneously acting with a clearness and strength that de- 
spair will sometimes give, she kindled a bright fire upon the very 
edge of the mountain, that thereby she might telegraph her wants 
and wishes to those below, in accordance with a custom that every 
Indian learns to practice from childhood :* and slow as the hours 
ebbed away, the entreated relief came at last, for the hoped-for 
recovery of her soul's jewel, even though now sleeping in the cold 
embrace of death. Young sapling tamaracks were lashed end- 
Avise together, with thongs cut from the skin of the deer that were 
to form part of the wedding feast; and, when these were ready, 

*See pages 25, 26. 

374 IX TUB m-jAirr of the sierras. 

Tee-hee-neh, springing forward would permit no hands but her 
own to be the first to touch the beloved one. She would descend 
to T'ecover him, or perish in the attempt. Finding that no amount 
of persuasion could change her resolve they reluctantly, yet care- 
fully, lowered her. to the prostrate form of Kos-soo-kah ; and, as 
though strength of purpose had converted her nerves into steel, 
defiant of all danger, she first kissed his pale lips, then unwound 
the deer-skin cords from around her body, fastened them lovingly, 
yet firmly, to his, and gave the signal for uplifting him to the top. 
This aceouiplished, gently, yet efficiently, a reverent anxiety could 
be seen engraveil upon the faces of those performing that kindly 
act, for the safe deliverance of the heroic Tee-hee-neh; but, 
the same undismayed fearlessness, and apparent nerve, that had 
enaV)led her to descend, did not forsake her now, and Ix'fore the 
self-imposed task she had so unfalteringly set herself had been 
accomplished. Firmly fastening her loot, to prevent slipping, 
without other support or protection, she nervously clutched the 
pole with one hand, and as a signal of her wishes waved the other; 
and in a few moments was again at the .side of her adored, though 
lifeless, Kos-soo-kah. Silently, tearlessly, she looked for a mo- 
ment into tliose eyes that love had once lighted, and at the color- 
less lips from which she had so delectably sipped the nectar of her 
earthly bliss ; then, noiselessly, (juiveringly, sinking to her knees, 
she fell upon his bosom ; and, when lifted by gentle hands a few 
moments thereafter, it was discovered that her spirit had joined 
that of her Kos-soo-kah, in the hunting grounds of the hereafter. 
She had died of a broken heart. 

As the arrow that had so unexpectedly, yet so ruthlessly, 
brought on this double calamity, could never be found, it is be- 
lieved that it was spirited away by the reunited Tee-hee-neh and 
Kos-.soo-kah, to be sacredly kept as a memento of their undying 
love. The heavenward-pointed thumb, still standing there, in the 
hollow near which Kos-soo-kah's body was found, is ever rever- 
ently known among all the sons and daughters of Ah-wah-nee, as 
Hum-moo, or "' The Lost Arrow." 



(3n the right of Huin-moo, or Yo Semite Point, is Indian 

It was np this canon that the Indian prisoners escaped in 1851, 
as related in Chapter Y, pages 68, 69; from which circumstance 
originated the name; and it was down this that the avenging 
Monos crept, when they substantially exterminated the Yo Semite 


tribe in 1853, as recorded in Chapter \l, pages 76, 77, and 78. 
This cafion, therefore, is invested with historical interest. For 
the purpose of enabling visitors to obtain views of the sublime 
scenery of the Sierras from the high ridge westerly from the crest 
of Yo Semite Point, and look upon the top of the Yo Semite Fall, 


before making its leap into the Valley, the writer had a horse-trail 
constructed up it, in 1870. The small streamlet leaping- in at the 
side is called the Little Winkle. 

Bearing to the right from this standpoint can be seen the 
North Dome, beneath which are the Ro^-al Arches and Washing- 
ton Tower ; and, following in succession, are the Half Dome, Grizzly 
Peak, Mount Starr King, Glacier Point, Union Point, the Senti- 
nel, Cathedral Peaks, Eagle Peak, Eagle Tower, and the Yo 
Semite Fall, all forming a glorious panorama of Valley celebrities. 
But, advancing toward the latter, on our right we pass the or- 
chard, the Hutchings' cabin (described in Chapter XI, pages 
138, 139, 140, and 141), and are soon at the Yo Semite Creek 
Bridge, and can there see the large volume of water that forms 


Looking at the full stream that is hurrying on, in the early 
spring at least, we can scarcely realize that all this water has just 
made the leap of nearly two tliousand six hundred feet ; or that 
the apparently small fall we had seen from the opposite side of 
the Valley, could develop into so imposing a spectacle. Noticing 
this on a recent occasion, Avhen in company with a civil engineer, 
the inquiry was made, " About how much water do you suppose 
there is now rolling over the edge of that mountain yonder, judg- 
ing from the size and speed of this stream?" " I will tell you 
this evening," Avas the prompt rejoinder. At the promised time I 
received the following: — 

When at the little red bridge which spans the stream, which I under- 
stood you to be supplied entirely by the Yo Semite Fall, this afternoon, I 
made a rough measurement of the quantity of water flowing, and found 
it to be as follows: Width 40 feet, mean depth 5 feet, mean velocity about 
4 feet per second. Quantity 40x5x4 = 800 cubic feet per second, or about 
6,000 gallons per second. 

I understood you to say that you had found the width of the stream 
at the top of the Yo Semite Fall to be 34 feet. If the velocity there be 15 
feet per second, this quantity would require a mean depth of 1 foot 7 
inches. Very respectfully yours, 

Hiram F. Mills, Civil Engineer. 


Before advancing far be^'ond the Yo Semite Ci-eek Bridge, 
let me call attention to an apparently small pine tree that stands 
alone, at the top of the shrub-covered slope that extends to the 
foot of the upper Yo Semite Fall wall, and seemingly beneath it. 
Now that tree, small as it appears, by careful measurement is a 
little over one hundred and tAventy-fivc feet in height, by eight 
feet seven inches in circumference. By noticing the comparatively 
insignificant proportions of that tree, we may be assisted in com- 
prehending the otherwise unrealized altitudes of these iminense 
cliffs. The large pine growing on the ledge below that, has a cir- 
cumference, at the base, of twelve feet nine inches. Hum-moo, 
or the Giant's Thumb, stands prominently up and out when seen 
from this standpoint ; and whose height is said be two hundred 
and three feet above the hollow where Kos-soo-kah's body was 
reputed to be found, according to the legend of the Lost Arrow. 


The nearer we approach the Yo Semite Fall, the more fully 
do we realize its astonishing attractions. Those who content 
themselves by viewing this magnificent scene only at a distance, 
must have about the same apprehension of its impressive attraction 
as they would of a very beautiful woman, or handsome man, when 
seen about half a mile off. The same comparison will appositely 
apply to seeing the Vernal and Nevada Falls only from Glacier 
Point. It is nearness that places us in appreciative communion 
with Nature and her manifold and unspeakable glories. 1 have 
a,ccompanied hundreds, aye, thousands, to the foot of the Lower 
Yo Semite Fall, and this, without an exception, has been the 
spontaneous confession of every one. So that every step that 
we take after crossing the Yo Semite Creek Bridge puts us into 
closer relationship with the impressive majesty of this wonderful 
fall. "How it grows upon us," is a most frequent ejaculation 
that is born of apprehensive and appreciative feeling. How we 
watch the bold leap that it is making over the clift", more than 
two thousand five hundred feet above our heads, and follow the 




vaulting masses of its rocket-shaped and foaming waters with the 
eye, down to the seething caldron into which it bounds, at the 
base of the upjDer fall ; its eddying mists fringed by the sun with 
iridescent colors, that are constantly changing and reforming. 
At the right of the fall, just below its crest, a dark mass of 
shadow reveals the portrait of the " Gnome of the Yo Semite," 
with his badge of rank hancrinsf across the shouldei". 

The oaks, dogwoods, alders, maples, pines, and cedars now 


P)ioto. l,y C. L, Weed. 


begin to form an arcade of great beauty over the sparkling, rip- 
pling, foammg, singing, bowlder-strewn foreground of the stream; 
while ill the background the lower Yo Semite is leaping down in 
one broad sheet of white sheen, the main body of which seems 

THE Yo s?:mitk valley. 379 

composed of immense icicles fringed with snoAv, falling from 
behind a dark middle distance of pines and firs. If the snow 
fields above are rapidly melting beneath the fiery strength of a 
hot summer's sun, a large body of water will be seen rushing and 
bounding over and among blocks of granite ; then, spreading out 
afterwards, to form numerous streams that can readily be forded, 
if the ford is prudently selected, and thus afford a strikingly 
picturesque scene. 

It must not be supposed that the cloud-like spray that de- 
scends is the main fall itself, broken into infinitesimal particles 
and thus becomes nothing but a broad sheet of cloud. By no 
means; for, althr)ugh this stream shoots over the margm of the 
mountain, nearly five hundred feet above, it falls almost in a solid 
body; not m a continuous stream exactly, but liaving a close re- 
semblance to an avalanche of snowy rockets that appear to be 
perpetually trying to overtake each other in their descent, and 
connningling one with the other, compose a torrent of indescriba- 
ble power and beauty. 

As we advance, a change of temperature becomes very per- 
ceptible, so that the w^armth experienced in the open Valley upon 
the way, is gradually changed to chilliness. Soon we feel that a 
breeze, about equal in strength to eight knots an hour, is meet- 
ing us directly in the face, and bringing with it a heavy shower 
of finely comminuted spray, that falls with sufiicient force to 
saturate our clothing in a few moments. From this a beautiful 
phenomenon is observable, inasmuch as, after striking our hats, 
the diamond-like mist shoots ofi" at an angk> of about thirty-five 
or forty degrees, and as the sun shines upon it, a number of 
miniature rainbows are formed all around us. In early daj^s, 
wdien conveniences were few, this cold draught of air was pressed 
into service as a meat-safe, and answered very well, in the absence 
of all others. The philosophy which explains the cause of this 
cold current is, that the water-fall leaping into the air naturally 
displaces it by driving it downward, and thus creates a vacuum ; 
and the air from above rushing in to fill that vacuum, causes 


this constant wind. It will be noticed that e\en tlie trees which 
stand in the current ai'e prevented from forming branches on 
their windward side. It will also be noticed that the trunks of 
these trees are denuded of branches for from fifty to eighty feet up 
them ; the cause of which, probably, arises from the heavy deposits 
of snow which form here during some winters (I have crossed 
bridges of snow here that were over seventy feet in thickness), 
and as its melting is mainly from beneath, when the snow settles 
down it breaks off all the branches, and carries them down Avith it. 

Drawing still nearer, large masses of sharp, angular rocks, are 
scattered here and there, forming the uneven sides of an immense 
and apparentl}' ever-boiling caldron ; around, and in the inter- 
stices of which numerous dwarf ferns, weeds, grasses, and flowers 
are ever giowing; where not actually washed l>y the falling stream. 
Hastily rushing through the spray, and taking shelter behind a 
buttress of the mountain, we can see two of the divisions which 
make this water-fall apparently forming into one. 

It is beyond the power of language to describe the awe- 
inspiring majesty of the darkly-frowning and overhanging 
mountain walls of solid granite that here hem us in on every side, 
as though they would threaten us with instantaneous annihilation, 
did we for a moment atttniipt to deny their power. If man ever 
feels his utter insignificance, it is wlien looking upon such a scene 
of a})palling gi'andeur as the one here presented. 

The point whence the photograph was taken from which 

the accompanying engraving was made, being directly near the 

foot of the lower fall, might lead to the supposition that the lower 

section, embracing, as it does, about three-fourths of the whole, 

was the hie^hest of the two, when the relative heights of the three 

are, as given by 

Prof. J. D. Whitney, State Geoloyiit: LiErrENAXT Wheeler, U. S. Surrey. 

Upper Fall 1,500 Upper Fall 1.436 

Middle (including cascades) G'2(5 Middle (i.. eluding cascades) (526 

Lower 400 Lower 488 

Total '2,5-26 Total 2,550 

But Professor Whitne\' makes this observation: — 

Fboto by C. L. Weed. 



The vertical height of the lip of the fall above the Valley is, in round 
numbers, 2,600 feet, our various measurements giving from 2,537 to 2,641, 
the discrepancies being due to the fact that a near approach to, or a pre- 
cise definition of, the place where the perpendicular portion of the fall 
commences is not possible. The lip or edge of the fall is a great rounded 
mass of granite, polished to the last degree, on which it was found to be 
a hazardous matter to move. A difference of a hundred feet, in a fall of 
this height, woidd be entirely imperceptible to most eyes. 

The stream which forms this fall flows mainly from the melt- 
ing snows near Mt. Hoffinan, some eighteen miles distant. When 
the trip is taken to Eagle Peak, as the trail passes sufficiently 
close to the foot of the upper Yo Semite Fall to afford the oppor- 
tunity of a closer examination, we can then see more of its varied 
and interesting features. 


This is one of the most delightful and most satisfying of 
pilgrimages that could possibly be made within the walls of the 
Valley; but, to see the lake at its best, when the reflected shadows 
are strongest, and the beautiful mirror upon its glassy bosom is 
in the greatest perfection, it should be seen before the sun rises 
upon it. This will enable the visitor to witness the interesting 
phenomena of "sunrise on the lake," and afford the opportunity 
of its repetition several times on the same morning ! Between ten 
and twelve A. M., the sea breeze generally sweeps across it, and 
breaks the mirror into as many pieces as there are ripples upon it. 
Therefore make the visit early, say about seven o'clock ; but this, 
of course, differs according to the season of the 3'ear; yet the 
proper time for leaving the hotel can always be ascertained from 
the landlord, or from the carriage proprietors. On account of the 
early time desirable for setting out on this trip, it is better to 
postpone it until the second day after arrival, as a premature 
departure from our couch on the succeeding morning of our 
advent, will generally bring on premature fatigue, and a conse- 
quent decrease in the amount of our enjoyment. 

Leaving the hotel early, then, we cross Meadow Avenue to 


the oak-studded low ridge on the northern side, and threaiiing 
our way through the grove, have gUmpses of our unspeakably 
sublime surroundings from between the trees. On our let we 
pass the revered spot where dear ones are sleeping; and soon find 
ourselves at the old Indian camp ground, near Indian Canon ; the 
bright sunlight and somber shadows winking and twinkling from 
between the trees, upon the gurgling streams that intersect the 
road. While on our right lie luxuriant green fields, first fenced 
and cultivated by Mr. J. C. Lamon ; and the old cabin where 
he once spent his winters, as narrated on page 137. These are 
now occupied, and well cared for, by Mr. A. Harris and family. 


But a few yards beyond these we cross the streams that form 
the Royal Arch Cascades, a diamond-lighted, wavy, musical rivu- 
let, that drops gently down some two thousand feet over the 
Royal Arch wall. This is so called fr(jm the immense arches 
that are hewed out of its side, which have a sjjan of over a quarter 
of a mile, and a height of about one thousand seven hundi'ed feet ; 
and which, with the Washington Tower, form the base of the 
great North Dome, represented in the engraving. 

The Indian name of this arch-formed and dome-crowned 
mountain is To-coy-pe, derived from the prominence and depth 
(some fifty feet) of one of its projecting conchoidal fractures, hav- 
ing a resemblance to a poke-bonnet-like shade to the Indian 
baby-basket, for protecting the occupant's eyes from the sun, and 
which is called "to-coy-pe." Owing to the curve of these wing- 
like arches, stretching as they do from a kind of lion-like head, 
near the top of Washington Tower — as the abutting angle of this 
moantain is called — a gentleman resident of Philadelphia sug- 
gested that " The Winged Lion " (one of the seuiptures found by^ 
Layard in the ruined cities of the' Euphrates Valley) would be a 
more expressive and suitable name for it than "Royal Arches." 

There is a large cave among the talus lying here, that Avas 
once used as a store-room bv Mr. Lamon, whenever his winters 



r hoto. by (■ 1! 

(North Dome, 3,700 feet above Valley.) 

were spent outside the Valley. Near this there is also another 
talus-formed cave, that is a natural fortification, and which was 
used as such, by the Indians, when pursued by the avenging 
soldiers in 1851-52. A short turn out from the road, when re- 
turning from Mirror Lake, will afford the opportunity of seeing it. 
When on the road towards Mirror Lake it may not be amiss 
to revert to the legend recorded on page 59, as it was hero the 
exploit occurred that gave the name of " Yo Semite" to the tribe, 


and afterwards to the Valley itself. Ridino- over rocky hillocks, 
and among- debris that lias at some time fallen from the adjacent 
mountains, with a park-like array of trees on either hand, we 
first arrive at Little Lake; and, just beyond it, the bright bosom 
of the enchantingly beautiful Mirror Lake comes into full view. 

At first its size is slightly disappointing, but that is soon lost 
sight of and forgotten in admiration of its transcendent loveliness. 
There is not a spot on earth, yet seen by man, that so charmingly 
blends majesty with beauty. And as soon as the beatified first 
impression somewhat subsides, and we can analyze its marvelous 
surroundings more in detail, the stronger becomes the conviction 
of its uneq^ualed charms. 

In full front of us, bearing a little to the left, perhaps, stands 
Mount Watkins, a second El Capitan (yet loftier), that exceeds 
four thousand feet in height above the bosom of the lake ; then 
comes the deep gorge through which the waters of Lake Ten-ie-ya, 
(some twelve miles easterly), leap from crag to pool, then gurgle 
among huge blocks of granite, until they reach Mirror Lake, 
there to become the medium of so much satisfying splendor ; on 
the right of this stands glorious Cloud's Rest, nearly six thousand 
feet above the lake; and directly southeast of us towers up nearly 
five thousand feet the over-shadowing and lofty wall of grand 
" Tis-sa-ack " (Half Dome), so called in affectionate veneration 
for the Indian's guardian angel of the Valley, bearing that 
name, as will become more apparent when the accompanying 
legend is read. 

Almost one-half of this immense mass, either from some con- 
vulsion of nature, or 

" Time's effacing lingers," 

has fallen over, by which, most probably, the dam for the lake 
was first formed. Yet proudly, aye, defiantly erect, it still holds 
its noble head, and is not only the highest of all those standing- 
more immediately around, but is one of the greatest attractions 
of the Valley. Moreover, in this are centered many agreeable 
associations to the Indian mind, as this was once the traditionary 



home of the angel-likf and beautiful 2'is-sa-ack, after whom her 
devoted Indian worshipers named this gloriously majestic mount- 
ain. While we sit in the shade of these fine old trees, and look 
upon all the objects around us, mirrored on the unruffled waters of 
the lake, let us relate the following interesting legend of Tu-tock- 
ah-nu-lah, after whom the vast perpendiculai* and massive project- 
ing rock at the lower end of the valley was named, and with 
which is closely interwoven the history of Tis-sa-ack. 

This legend was related in an Eastern journal, by a gentleman 
once visiting here, who signs himself " Iota," and who received it 
from the lips of an old Indian; the relation of which, although 
several points of interest are omitted, will, nevertheless, prove 
very entertaining : — 


" It was in the unremembered past that the children of the 
sun first dwelt in Yo Semite. Then all was happiness; for Tu- 
tock-ah-nu-la sat on high in his rocky home, and cared for the 
people whom he loved. Leaping over the upper plains, he herded 
the wild deer, that the people might choose the fattest for the 
feast. He roused the bear from his cavern in the mountain, that 
the brave might hunt. From his lofty rock he prayed to the 
Great Spirit, and brought the soft rain uj)on the corn in the 
valley. The smoke of his pipe curled into the air, and the golden 
sun breathed warmly through its blue haze, and ripened the crops, 
that the women might gather them in. When he laughed, the 
face of the winding river was rippled with smiles ; Avhen he sighed, 
the wind swept sadly through the sighing pines; if he spoke, the 
sound was like the deep voice of the cataract; and when he smote 
the far-striding bear, his whoop of triumph rang from crag to 
gorge — echoed from mountain to mountain. His form was 
straight like the arrow, and elastic like the bow. His foot was 
swifter than the red deer, and his eye was strong and bright like 
the rising sun. 

" But one morning, as he roamed, a bright vision came 
before him, and then the soft colors of the West were in his lus- 


trous eye. A maiden sat upon the southern granite dome that 
lifts its gray head among the highest peaks. She was not like 
the dark maidens of the tribe below, for the yellow hair rolled 
over her dazzling form, as golden waters over silver rocks; her 
brow beamed with the pale beauty of the moonlight, and her blue 
eyes were as the far-off hills before the sun goes down. Her little 
foot shone like the snow-tufts on the wintry pines, and its ai'ch 
was like the spring of a bow. Two cloud-like wings wavered 
upon her dimpled shoulders, and her voice was as the sweet, sad 
tone of the night-bird of the woods. 

" 'Tu-tock-ah-nu-lah,' she softly whispered; then, gliding up 
the rocky dome, she vanished over its rounded tops. Keen was 
the eye, quick was the ear, swift was the foot of the noble youth 
as he sped up the rugged path in pursuit ; but the soft down from 
her snowy wings was wafted into his eyes, and he saw her no 

" Every morning now did the enamored Tu-tock-ah-nu-lah 
leap the stony barriers, and wander over the mountains, to meet 
the lovely Tis-sa-ack. Every day he laid sweet acorns and wild 
flowers upon her dome. His ear caught her footstep, though it 
was light as the falling leaf; his eye gazed upon her beautiful 
form, and into her gentle eyes; but never did he speak before her, 
and never again did her sweet-toned voice fall upon his ear. 
Thus did he love the fair maid, and so strong was his thouglit of 
her that he forgot the crops of Yo Semite, and they, without rain, 
wanting his tender care, quickly drooped their heads, and shrunk. 
The wind whistled mournfully through the wild corn, the wild 
bees stored no more honey in the hollow tree, for the flowers 
had lost their freshness, and the green leaves became brown. 
Tu-tock-ah-nu-lah saw none of this, for his eyes were dazzled by 
the shining wings of the maiden. But Tis-sa-ack looked with 
sorrowing eyes over the neglected Valley, when early in the morn- 
ing she stood upon the gray dome of the mountain; so, kneeling 
on the smooth, hard rock, the maiden besought the Great Spirit 
to bring again the bright flowers and delicate grasses, green trees, 
and noddinp" acorns. 


" Then, with an awful sound, the dome of granite opened 
beneath her feet,, and the mountain was ri\^en asunder, while the 
melting- snow from the Sierras gushed through the wondei-ful gorge. 
Quickly they formed a lake between the perpendicular walls of 
the cleft mountain, and sent a sweet murmurino- river throuo-h 
the Valley. All then was changed. The birds dashed their little 
bodies into the pretty pools among the grasses, and, fluttering out 
again, sang for delight; the moisture crept silently through the 
parched soil ; the flowers sent up a fragrant incense of thanks ; 
the corn gracefully raised its drooping head; and the sap, with 
velvet footfall, ran up into the trees, giving life and energy to all. 
But the maid, for whom the Valley had suffered, and through 
whom it had been again clothed with beauty, had disappeared as 
strangely as she came. Yet, that all might hold her memory in 
their hearts, she left the quiet lake, the winding river, and yonder 
half dome, which still bears her name Tis-sa-ack. It is 5,000 
feet above the placid lake that mirrors its imposing presence, 
and every evening it catches the last rosy rays that are reflected 
from the snowy peaks above. As she flew away, small downy 
feathers were wafted from her wings, and where they fell — 
on the margin of the lake, and over the meadows beyond — you 
now see thousands of little white violets, which, if lovingly 
plucked and kissed, will bring happy thoughts and pleasant 
dreams to their possessor, wheresoever they are carried. 

" When Tu-tock-ah-nu-lah knew that she was gone, he left 
his rocky castle, and wandered away in search of his lost love. 
But that the Yo Semites might never forget him, with the hunt- 
ing-knife in his bold hand, he carved the bold outlines of his 
noble head upon the rock that bears his name ; and there they 
still remain 2,000 feet above, guarding the entrance to the 
Valley which had received his tender care. After many years of 
far-off" journeyings, without finding his beloved Tis-sa-ack, he 
returned to his disconsolate home, and near where Po-ho-no spreads 
her vapory veil, his majestic bust stands prominently out above 
the encircling walls of his once happy habitation." 


Whole days could be enjoyably spent here, reading, musing, 
fishing, and rowing on the lake ; and a drive to it with a pleasant 
party on a moonlight night, becomes a delightful entertainment. 
On one occasion the Hon. Mrs. Yelverton, w^ith the gifted Cali- 
fornia w^'iter, Mrs. Lawrence (better known by the noin deplume 
of "Red Ridinghood," and who has done so much by her rich and 
varied description to bespeak wrapt attention to the Valley), and 
nine others, spent a gloriously memorable evening here. Mi's. 
Yelverton very kindly favored us with Tennyson's appropriate 
and inspiriting "Bugle Song:" — 

The splendor falls on castle walls, 

And snowy summits old in story; 
The long light shakes across the lakes. 

And the wild cataract leaps in glory. 
]51ow, Ijiigle, blow; set the wild echoes flying; 
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying. 

Pausing a little longer between the higher notes than the music 
provides for, nine (Hstinct echoes could be heard repeating its 
delicious strains. In the early morning, when every sound is 
hushed, and before the bi'eeze disturbs its quiet, the echoes will be 
found excellent ; but in the evening, when the haze lingers on the 
mountain-tops, and ])ossibly prevents the sound from passing far 
upward, the effect is strongest and best. 

Speaking of echoes, as story-tellers w^ould say, this reminds 
me of Mr. J. H. Lawrence's graphic description of an echo, when 
making his first trip to Yo Semite in 1855,* and Indians w^ere 
supposed to be uninvitingly near: — 

" Bang!" went the rifle, and a thousand echoes responded. "Great 
Scott!" exclaimed Hugh. "Just listen to it. Will it ever quit? Jee- 
whillikins! Who ever heard a gun crack like that? It seemed to stop for 
a while, but it's going yet — broke out in a new place." 

"Well, now, I'm happy and content," responded Jim; '"fbr if then' 
are any Indians within ten miles of us, they are going to get up and dust. 
No little squad of Piutes, Diggers, or Monos, are going to stop within hear- 
ing of a whole army. They'll think there's about five hundred of us — 
won't they, Hugh?" 

*See page 93. 


■•Yes, a thousand, easy enough. Did you ever hear the like of those 
echoef? They rattled away along the crest of the mountain, jumping in 
and out of the ravines, butting against the tojw of the tall sugar pines, till 
they got tangled up and lost in a big canon somewhere away yonder, where 
they seemed to die out, muttei-ing and grumbling; till directly they gath- 
ered themselves together again, and came rolling out big as pounds of 

If we have been so injudicious as to leave the hotel or catnp 

ground before breakfast, or neglected a precautionary provision 
for our mid day repast, an admonishing voice from the organs of 
digestion will probably hasten our premature departure ; otherwise 
we might be induced to tarry longer to examine the supposed ex- 
istence of refractory rays of light, which are said to trans vert the 
ordinary image of trees mirrored, and to place them upiight in 
the mirror as in nature; or examine, in detail, the many objects 
that are represented on the mountain walls, such as the clothes- 
line, fish, heads of men and forms of women, elephants, etc., dis- 
covered by persons with keen eyesight, and strong imaginations. 
When leaving Mirror Lake, immediately after our emergence 
from the rocky talus over which we have been riding, should we 
look southward, and up the canon to the left of Glacier Point, we 
would see the Too-lool-a-we-ack, or Glacier Canon Fall, leaping 
down over the cliff. Before leaving this part of the Valley let me 
call your attention to 


That bubbles up, on the margin ^of Ten-ie-ya Creek. I once 
visited this spring in company with the eminent English chemist, 
Dr. F. E,. Lees, of Leeds, and he pronounced it the finest and most 
valuable chalybeate spring h<^ had ever seen. A carriage can go 
within a few yards of it. 

Just below the chalybeate spring we take the Tis-sa-ack 
Avenue Road, a delightfully picturesque stretch, crossing the dark 
shady waters of Ten-ie-ya Creek on a strong bridge ; and on the 
right hand, a few steps below it, can be seen the largest tree in 
the Valley, being twenty-eight feet in circumference at the ground. 
It is a red or Douglas spruce, Abies Douglasii. A couple of hun- 


dred yards from this, on our right, is the famous Lamon Orchard 
and cabin, where Mr. Lamon spent his two winters entirely alone, 
as related on pages 135 and 138. On the south eastern edge of 
the Lamon Orchard, lying between Ten-ie-ya Creek and the main 
Merced River, 


This seems to have been deposited here by the combined ac- 
tion of two glaciers; one moving down Ten-ie-ya Creek, and the 
other by the main river, joined in the Valley by another from 
Glacier Caiion. Glimpses of the sparkling stream, fringed with 
dogwoods, alders, oaks, and balm of gileads, with here and there 
a noble pine; scattered masses of granite, huge bowlders, and 
rocky spurs, over which our road passes ; these, with Glacier Canon 
and Glacier Point, miite to make the Tis-sa-ack Avenue drive one 
of the most enjoyable of them all. Presently we find ourselves on 
Tis-sa-ack Bridge, which here spans the Merced River; and, look- 
ing northerly, obtain one of the finest of all views of the North 
Dome, which, from this standpoint, is shaped like a hugh Prussian 
military hat; and the leaping cascades above the bridge, over- 
arched by alders, are both beautiful and wildly picturesque. 

Spinning down the Valley from the bridge, seemingly directly 
underneath the Glacier Point Wall, we cross several large and de- 
liciously cold springs that apparently boil out from beneath it; 
and which are to be pressed into service for supplying the new 
hotel with a most liberal abundance of excellent water (and yet 
leave plenty for others), and soon thereafter arrive at 


To becomingly provide for the gi'owing wants of the travel- 
ing public in accoi'dance with the progressive spirit of the age, a 
new and commodious hotel was resolved upon at Yo Semite, and 
the sum of $40,000 was appropriated by the Legislature of 1885, 
for its construction. The Board of Commissioners immediately 
advertised for suitable plans, and from among those submitted, 
selected the one they deemed most appropriate. In addition to its 


architectural picturesqueness it has seventy-four good-sized bed- 
rooms, dining and sitting rooms, bilHard hall, and bar room, hot 
and cold baths, office, and other convenient apartments, in addi- 
tion to capacious verandas on two stories. It is to be first-class 
in all its arrangements and appointments. 


About a quarter of a mile below the new hotel, a so-called 
" cyclone " swooped down from a point apparently west of the 
Glacier Wall on March 13, 1881, and cut a swath of forest desola- 
tion over three hundi'ed yards in breadth ; snapping off pine trees 
exceeding five feet in diameter, as though they were mere pipe 
stems; uprooting others, twisting and breaking off' the tops and 
branches of sturdy oaks, as though enviousl} angry at the um- 
brageous quiet they were enjoying; and strewed the whole plateau 
with tree wrecks. One hundred cords of fire-wood, besides an 
abundance of good logs adapted to saw-mill purposes, were scat- 
tered around. 

Now I cannot accept the " cyclone " theory, as its first efforts 
were expended near an almost vertical bluff, where there was no 
room for such a force to concentrate, and all the havoc made was 
in a direction at right angles with the bluff'. My theory, there- 
fore, is this (and I freely concede the privilege of accepting 
or declining it): On the 7th of March, a fall of snow came, that 
measured fourteen inches; on the 8th, fifteen inches; on the 9th, 
fourteen and a half inches; on the 10th, twelve inches; on the 
11th, sixteen inches; on the 12th, thirteen inches; all of this lay 
on the shelving side of the mountain, back of the wind swath. 
On the 13th of March, after making an additional deposit of 
the feathery element of some ten inches, a steady and heavy rain 
set in ; which, running down the shelving wall, severed the cling- 
ing connection between it and the snow ; when, having no sup- 
port, its natural weight, infiltrated by the falling rain, caused the 
entire mass to suddenly give way, and as suddenly to displace 
the air, thus causing the devastation stated. 


The lofty and bold surrouii<lings ou every hand may well 

charm us with their majesty and beauty, as we drive along ; while 

the Yo Semite Fall in front of us all the way down, provides 

an evei'changing and acceptable variety to this scenic feast. 

About a quarter of a mile before reaching Barnard's, as part of 

our course is upon the bank of the Merced River, we can see the 

trout disporting themselves in its transparent waters; and just 

beyond that, on our left, is the little school-house — and then, the 



After a substantial lunch — called by many English visitors 
" tiffin " — made palatable by that best of all sauces, a good appe- 
tite, as our carriage is possibly waiting, let us make an excursion 
down the Valley and gaze upon some of its matchless wonders. 
On this pilgrimage it is usual to recross the upper iron bridge, 
again review many of the scenes witnessed on our way to Mirror 
Lake, pass the Yo Semite Fall, and, directly in front of us, stands 
Eagle Peak, three thousand eight hundred and eighteen feet above 
the Valley. As we, at a futui-e time, are to climb to its exalted 
summit, we will, if you please, only glance at its sky-piercing 
pinnacle, and pass down Pine Avenue to 


This is just under the lowest shoulder of the " Three Broth- 
ers," and is formed by large blocks of rocky talus that once 
peeled from its side. By the excellence of the road made over this 
difficult spot can now be seen how these huge masses had to ^ield 
to blasting powder, human will and muscle, pulley blocks, and 
mule power, for such results to be accomplished. From one part of 
the road heie a magnificent view is obtained of the entire eastern 
end of the Valley. Soon after crossing Rocky Point — a reference 
to the tables will show the distances traveled — we arrive at and 
examine the Indian Camp and its inmates; but, as the manners 
and customs of these really interesting people will be given in a 
separate chapter, further present description will be unnecessary. 



When about a mile below the Indian Camp, by looking back 
in a north easterly direction, we have an excellent view of 


By reference to page 07, it will be seen that this was so called 
from three brothers, sons of the old Indian Chief Ten-ie-ya, wh(j 
were acting as Indian scouts during the Indian campaign of 1851, 
and were captured here. The Indian name is Pora-pom-pa-sa, 
which signifies " the three mountains playing leap-frog," and 
which becomes suggestive of the Indians' indulgence in that boy- 

PhotO. by J, L . Weed. 

THE THREE BROTHERS (Highest 3,818 feet above Valley). 


ish pastime. But soon after passing these we find ourselves in the 
awe-inspiring and over shadowing presence of 


But what finite mind can ever comprehend the marvelous 
massiveness of this monarch of mountains — a mighty fabric of 
granite towering up three thousand three hundred feet in the 
zenith? or who conceive the amplitude, or magnitude, of three 
thousand three hundred feet of vertical rock cleavage? Those 
who have seen the Palace Hotel in San Francisco will remember 
how that structure overtops all contiguous buildings; yet, that 
immense caravansary is but one hundred and ten feet from the 
sidewalk to the cornice; therefore, it would require just thirty 
Palace Hotels, on top of each other, to reach the edge of El Capi- 
tan, above the meadow in front of it. Then, supposing this 
mountain could be laid along Montgomery Street, San Francisco, 
it would extend from Post Street, at the corner of Market, to 
Broadway, over ten blocks, including the cross streets. Trinity 
Church steeple. New York, is two hundred and eighty-four feet 
high; therefore it would require eleven and a half of these to 
attain such an altitude. -The statue on the dome of the Capitol 
at Washington, D. C, being three hundred and seven feet abot-e 
the base of that structure, would take ten and three-quarters of 
that imposing building, to enable the lips of the Goddess of Liberty, 
on the top of it, to kiss the brow of Tu-tock-ah-nu-lah. St. Paul's 
Cathedral, at London, including the dome, is three hundred and 
sixty-five feet above the church-yard, so that over nine of 
would be required to attain an equal elevation. St. Peter's, at 
Rome, four hundred and five feet high, would need to be over eight 
times its height, before the shoulder of its cross could touch that of 
El Capitan. And, allowing the possibility of its falling over, into, 

* " Tu-tock-ah-nu-lah" Mas to tlie Indians of antiquity a semi-deity and chief 
in whose person wa? centered the double responsibility of head purveyor of creat- 
ure comforts for ihe Ah-wah-nee-chees upon earth, and the siiperintendence of 
their enjoyments in the hunting grounds of their Indian heaven. "El Capitan" 
is Spanish for The Captain, a name given to this bold jutting mountain Ijy the Mis- 
sion Indians, and which was probably derived from tlieir Spanish instructors, the 


and across the Valley, its grand old head would lie on the bosom 
of the opposite cliff! while forming a dam that would convert the 
whole upper end of the Valley into a lake exceeding half a mile 
in depth. Who, then, can fully comprehend the stupendous mag- 
nitude of incomparable El Capitan? 

It has two imuK-nse faces exceeding half a mile in breadth ; 
one to the south (which is said to overhang more than one hun- 
dred feet, a short distance east of the abutting angle), upon which 
Tu-tock-ah-nu-lah, according to the legend,* "carved the out- 
lines of his noble head," and wdiose portrait attracts the attention 
of every curious passer-by ; and the other face is on the west (which 
also overhangs) upon the top of which is the only place where 
a human foot can safely approach the edge, and from that stand- 
point look into an abyss exceeding three thousand five hundred 
feet in depth. Well might the Rev. Thomas Starr King, while 
reverentially gazing at this marvelous cliff, with deep emotion 
exclaim, " A more majestic object than this rock I never expect 
to see upon this planet! " 

Then it should be remembered that the views obtained of it 
are generally from the road about half a mile away; but to feel 
the unutterable majesty of its subhme presence, the debris should 
be climbed, and one's back placed against its overhanging wall. 
The small proportionate amount of debris lying at its base, is 
cause for thoughtful musing as to the why and wherefore; and 
probably keeps our thoughts ruminatingly busy while reluctantly 
turning our faces away from it. 

Emerging into the green meadow just beyond, the " Cathedral 
Group " of mountains strikingly confronts us ; and possibly invites 
a comparsion between those before and that we have just linger- 
ingly left behind. The excellence of the road, and the scenes still 
awaiting us both stimulate and invite to an increase in the sjDeed 
of our horses; and in a few minutes we find ourselves on a straight 
and elevated roadway, beneath which numerous culverts provide 
for the unobstructed exit of the glinting waters of numerous 

*Page 388. 


branches of a pebbly ami bowlder-strewn stream, that has just 
made an unbroken leap of over two thousand feet, and which is 
known as 


The Indians call this Lung-oo-too-koo-yah, or the graceful 
and slender one ; while a lady, whose name shall be nameless, once 
christened it " Virgin's Tears; " but, when a matter-of-fact person 
made inquiry for any legitimate reason why a virgin should weep, 
or, weeping, cause such floods of tears to flow, he was thought to 
possess as limited an amount of idealism as Bob Cratchet, who, 
according to Dickens, "tried to warm himself at the candle; in 
which effort, not being a man of strong imagination, he failed ; " 
and when the same individual hazarded the casual remark that 
" his acquaintance was exceedingly limited with those of the mas- 
culine gender who would be likely to fall hopelessly in love with 
any virgin that wept like that," his organ of ideality was con- 
sidered to be equivalent to the size of a mathematical point, which, 
paradoxically considered, has neither breadth nor length, height nor 
depth, except that which is imaginary! 

Looking up towards the rim of the mountain, a white stream 
can be seen shooting out, at an altitude of three thousand three 
hundred and fifty feet above the road; which, in addition to its 
great height, being over a mile distant, appears to the eye to be 
descending very leisurely and with gentle grace, the two thousand 
one hundred feet of its vertical fall into the basin beneath it; but, 
when standing near, and almost underneath it, the rapidity of its 
descent is remarkable. The exceeding beauty of its lace-like and 
gauzy drapery is simply enchanting in the early spring. Nearly 
perpendicular, tower-like walls, of two thousand three hundred and 
fifty feet, frame a recess some three hundred feet deep from the gen- 
eral face of the mountain ; and w^hich, beyond question, has been 
cutout by the stream that forms this lofty water-fall; assisted, of 
course, by other disintegrating elements. The gneiss which here 
composes the northern wall of the Valley, being very friable, its 
constant crumblings have created a deposit of talus at their base 


over thirteen hundred feet in height, thus tending to confirm tlie 
probability that Yo Semite was formed by erosive rather than 
by volcanic agencies. 

Near the western terminus of the straight stretch of carriage 
road across the Ribbon Fall streams, can even now be distinctly 


That at one time extended entirely across the Valley, and formed 
an immense dam, by which the whole of the upper end of the 
Valley was converted into a lake — possibly the most remarkable 
one that ever existed ujDon earth. The height of this moraine- 
built dam, when the glaciers carried it there, in the fifty thousands 
or hundreds of thousand years ago, more or less, can only be con- 
jectured ; but now its crest is only about fifty feet above the pres- 
ent level of the meadow. During some great flood this lake must 
have overflowed, where the Merced River now runs; and, tearing 
away a portion of the moraine, cut the present channel of the 
river; as the rapids down which it so impetuously rushes are 
strewn with glacier-rounded bowlders. Standing upon the lower 
iron bridge — the floor of which, according to the "Wheeler U. S. 
Survey, is only nine feet lower than that of the upper iron bridge, 
near Barnard's — these can readily be noted, and both of the river- 
cut ends of the moraine be seen. 

As additional inductive data, suggestive of the upper end of 
the Valley having once been a lake, may be mentioned that, when 
the new piece of road w-as built near the blacksmith's shop, and 
the deep hollow there had to be filled up, the material was taken 
from the adjacent bank ; where, underneath large blocks of granite, 
that had peeled from off the mountain's side, was an immense de- 
posit of lake sand, not less than eighteen feet in thickness or 
depth above the road. 

After the cutting away of a portion of the moraine, as above 
mentioned, the whole of the waters of the lake must have drained 
off, and left the surface of the Valley substantially as it now is; 
of course minus the wonderful plant life that now adorns it. 


When the low back of the moraine is crossed, on our right 
hand we pass the junction of tlie Milton and Big- Oak Flat road 
with that of the grand drive around the Valley. And but a short 
distance beyond this, on the rocky banks of the river, there is a 
fine view of a series of bounding- cascades, that extend, apparently, 
up to the bluffs at the farther end, their diamond-tipped waves curl- 
ing around moss- covered bowlders; and all overarched by lofty 
trees. Beyond this a glimpse is obtained of the ever-graceful 
Bridal Veil Fall. But on we drive, and near a bright green 
meadow, margined by alders, and liberally adorned with wild 
flowers that delight in moisture, we come to 


These take their name from the color of the rich alluvial 
through which the delightfully refreshing waters of two fuU- 
flowmg cold springs hurry down a deep-cut gully that crosses 
the road. This, in appearance, is only one spring, while in reality 
it is formed of two, that boil out from beneath a large flat rock 
about a hundred yards distant, on sides opposite to each other; 
one spring being chalybeate, and the other pure water. Here 
man (including the ladies) and beast find refreshing drink, and 
generally pause to take it. Turning to the left, just below this, 
at a bend in the road, we find the magnificent 

Standing on the western margin of this beautiful stream, 
looking eastward, with the rushing, gurgling current in the im- 
mediate foreground, there opens up before us one of the most 
charmingly impressive scenes that human eyes can look upon. On 
the extreme left is the Ribbon Fall, with its broken yet massive 
wall; next adjoining comes glorious o»ld El Capitan; in the far- 
away distance are Cloud's Rest and the Half Dome; then. The 
Sentinel, and Sentinel Dome ; the Three Graces, flanked by the 
• darkly scowling mountain over which leaps the bright-faced 
Bridal Veil Fall ; the whole forming a captivathig combination of 


majesty and loveliness. Turning away from this delighting specta- 
cle the Pohono Bridge is soon passed, and Ave enter upon the 


This is a portion of the Coulterville Turnpike, and is con- 
structed on the margin of the clifF-walled and bowlder-strewn 
canon of the Merced River, where it makes its hurried exit from 
the Valley. The many attractive forms of its bounding waters, 
as they dash, and eddy, and surge, and swirl among and over 
huge blocks of rock, with lofty and frowning bluffs on either side, 
whose faces are fringed with trees and shrubs, and beautified by 
numerous rivulets, that come leaping down from ridge to ledge, or 
trickling through the furrows, and among the wrinkles of their 
weather-aged yet open countenances. And at almost every stretch 
and turning of this live oak arched road, are wild flowers and 
shrubs in endless forms, combined with such variety of coloring 
as to make constant and inspiriting additions to our pleasurable 
ride. But the climax of all these charming scenes comes when 
we can catch the first sight of 


These are seen bounding over and adown the mighty crags, 
driving out eddies of sun-lighted spray, that wave and toss their 
vapory veils upon the rocks and trees with such graceful abandon 
that the eye never wearies in watching their aerial frolics. 
And it is not a little singular that these cascades, which are formed 
from two streams, although having their sources in directly oppo- 
site directions, join forces at the verge of the cliff, and make the 
leap together. From the road to the top of Cascade Falls the alti- 
tude is seven hundred feet. 

In order to enjoy this visit thoroughly the larger portion of 
the day should be devoted to it, fortified by a good lunch, and 
fishing tackle ; and, best of all, genial and appreciative companions. 
At the farther end of the flat, not very far from Vulcan's Work- 
shop, there is a shady grove of California nutmegs, and other 
trees, that make this a pleasant picnic ground. 


Returning we watch the silver-crested curls of the foaming 
river ; note its dark green pools, and curving eddies, and listen to 
the deep psean of its triumphal song, as it rushes on so fearlessly, 
I had almost said recklessly, down a cataract of two miles, wherein 
is a descent, vertically, of five hundred and fifty feet. As the 
ascent by the road from Cascade Falls to the floor of the Yalley 
is somewhat of a tax upon the breath and strength of the horses, 
progress up it is naturally slower than when going down, and 
gives time and opportunity for noticing many points that were 
then overlooked. This is really no small advantage. We soon, 
however, find ourselves on 


A casual glance at this substantial strvicture will present an 
example of the strength, solidity, and permanence with which the 
Board of Commissioners are making the necessary improvements 
about the Valley. Looking down upon the SAviftly surging cur- 
rent below the bridge, or the placid stretch of dark green water 
above it, or at its matchless mountainous surroundings, one can 
scarcely refrain from exclaiming, " What a glorious picture gal- 
lery. Verily!" 


The densely massed shadows of this tree-arched avenue, which 
we enter when leaving the bridge, become as refreshing as the 
blossoming dogwoods, which stand on either side, are exhilarating; 
and the many-voiced, plant-garnished Moss Springs, and Fern 
Springs, gushing out at our side, temptingly invite us to drink of 
their transparent and ice-tempered waters. Still tasting them 
retrospectively, we emerge from an umbrageous forest of ever- 
greens upon the bright, grassy Bridal Veil Meadow, whence an 
apparently new combination of scenic effects is everywhere visi- 
ble. Here, too, looking southwestwardly, we can see the "Inspi- 
ration Point " of early days, when the trail from Clark's neared 
the very edge of the precipice, and the first sight of glorious Yo 
Semite was obtained. Hence, also, can be seen " Mount Beati- 



tude," and the sublime " Standpoint of Silence," a spot first 
brought to the notice of visitors hy Mr. C D. Robinson, the artist. 
After crossing another terminal, and passing an additional lateral 
moraine, we come into full view of 


It is impossible to portray the feeling of awe, wonder, and 
admiration — almost amounting to adoration — that thrills our 
very souls as we look upon this enchanting scene. The grace- 
fully undulating and wavy sheets of spray, that fall in gauze- 
like and ethereal folds; now expanding, now contracting; now 
glittering in the sunlight, like a veil of diamonds; now changing 

Photo, by C. L Weed 


lustautaueous I'Uoto. by Geo, Fiske. 

llcholj-pe Ctt . Boaton. 

THE PO-HO-NO, OR BRIDAL VEIL FALL (900 feet high). 


into one vast and many-colored cloud, that throws its misty 
drapery over the falling torrent, as if in very modesty, to veil its 
unspeakable beauty from our too eagerly admiring sight. 

In order to see this to the best advantage, the eye should take 
in only the foot of the fall at first, then a short section upward, 
then higher, until, by degrees, the top is reached. In this way 
the majesty of the water-fall is more fully realized and appreciated. 

The stream itself — about forty feet in width — resembles an 
avalanche of watery rockets, that shoots out over the precipice 
above you, at the height of nearly nine hundred feet, and then 
leaps down, in one unbroken chain, to the immense bowlder- 
formed caldron beneath, where it surges and boils in its angry 
fury; throwing up large volumes of spray, over which the sun 
buUds two or more magnificent rainbows with which to arch the 


"Pohono," from w^hom the stream and water-fall received 
their musical Indian name, is, according to their traditions and 
legends, an evil spirit, whose breath becomes a blighting and 
fatal wind; and who, in consequence, is, in their apprehension, as 
much to be dreaded and shunned as the simooms of an African 
desert by the Arab. On this account, should necessity require 
them to pass by it, they do so with a reluctance that fills them 
with actual distress ; and they will, if unseen by the whites, hurry 
past it at the top of their speed. To point at this water-fall 
contemptuously when travelmg in the Valley, to their minds is 
certaia death. No inducement could be offered sufficiently large 
to tempt them to sleep near it. In imagination they can hear the 
voices of those who have jmssed into the spirit world, through Po- 
hono's destroying breath, warning them ever to shun him as the 
worst of all enemies. 


Nor is this so much to be wondered at when for a moment 
we pause to think that their untutored minds have never been 
taught, reasoningly, to look from effect to cause. They, therefore, 


see all natural phenomena through the delusive eyes of supersti- 
tion only. In this connection an illustrative and explanatory 
fact should here be given : 1 have passed this fall at almost all 
hours of the night, and at nearly every season of the year, and 
for many years ; and there has not been a dozen occasions in all 
that time that I have not experienced a peculiar and strong wind 
blowing, within a given ra<lius of aliout half a mile. When 
without that radius scarcely a breath of wind was notice- 
able ; returning into it, the same wind was bending and swaying 
the shrubs and trees as before. This has been many times re- 
peated on the same evening, and always with the same results. 
And it is more than probable, that, from this simple, natural 
phenomena, the Indian's imagination has created "Pohono," 
and invested him with a personality whose every attribute is 
clothed with angry enmity to the Indian race. 


On the top of the Pohono Fall, moreover, there is a short and 
densely textured moss, not more than half an inch in height or 
thickness, which is as soft to the tread as a Turkey carpet; and 
which, when dry, will enable any one to go in perfect safety to 
the very brink of the precipice ; but, if wet, it becomes as slippery, 
and as difficult to stand upon, as ice that is slanting, so that no 
one need expect to preserve his equilibrium on that wet moss. 
This, to the Indian apprehension, has been placed there by Pohono 
for the purpose of tempting and entrapping the thoughtless and 
unwary ; and, as tradition has it, with more or less success. 


Some Indian women that were out gathering seeds, were led 
by curiosity to go to the edge of the fall to look over, when it is 
asserted that the shadowy and ghost-like form of Pohono was seen 
to throw one of the Indian women down ; and the force of the 
current striking her swept her helplessly into the abyss below. 
Seeing this the other women hastened to the Indian camp as rap- 
idly as possible and related the fearful story with terrible effect. 



In the hopeful expectation of afFording relief to the unfortunate 
one, as courage rose in proportion to the numbers volunteering, 
every brave in camp was induced to sally out to search for the 
hapless one, determined to rescue her from the weird-like clutches 
of Pohono, at any risk. But, although diligent search was made 
for her everywhere, the missing victim was never seen afterwards ; 
and it was, and is still, believed that Pohono spirited her away 
bodily to some unknown pandemonium ; and is, moreovi-r, con- 
stantly seeking after others for a like purpose. Several Indians 
of both sexes having lost their lives here, they believe that this 
stream is bewitched by Pohono ; and, consequently, to be both 
dreaded and shunned at all times. 


The creek which forms this graceful and beautiful fall derives 
its principal source from some large springs which flow into a 
crescent-shaped and rock-bound lake about thirteen miles distant ; 
and although this stream is never entirely dry, it becomes very 
low sometimes near the end of sunnner. In winter the icicles that 
feather both sides of the fall are very attractive, and the masses 
of ice that then form here, in which there are grotto-like caves 
roofed with icicles, are respleudently dazzling. 

The bright rainbows which are built by the setting sun on 
the tops of the eddying mists that roll out from the seething 
caldron at the base of the Pohono Fall, at all seasons of the year, 
are the most beautifully brilliant between four o'clock and half 
past five in the afternoon ; therefore, the many tempting sights 
elsewhere should be made somewhat subordinate to this, if it is 
deemed desirable that this should be seen to the best advantage. 
At other times it is simply an enchantingly charming and grace- 
ful water-fall ; but, when lighted up by brilliant rainbows, a halo 
of glory seems to enshrine it, that makes it a delightful memory 
forever. Please, therefore, to remember that although the Bridal 
Veil Fall " can be seen " at other times (in accordance with the 
established custom of society belles!) it "receives" only at the 
time mentioned. 


tu-tock-ah-nu-lah's citadel. 

The vertical and, at some points, overhanging mountains on 
either side of tlie Pohono, possess almost as much interest as the 
fall itself, and add much to the grandeur and magnificence of 
the whole scene. A tower-shaped and leaning rock, about three 
thousand feet in height, standing at the southwest side of the fall, 
sometimes called the " Leaning Tower," nearly opposite " Tu-tock- 
ah-nu-lah," has on its top a number of projecting rocks that very 
much resemble cannon. In order to assist in perpetuating the 
beautiful legend before given concerning that Indian semi-deity, 
we once took the liberty of christening this " Tu-tock-ah-nu-lah's 


South of Tu-tock-ah-nu-lah's Citadel, or the Leaning Tower, 
stands a lofty point of exceeding prominence, having the form 
and resemblance of a finely proportioned human head. This, the 
Indian traditions assert, is Tu-tock-ah-nu-lah waiting in hopeful 
faith and patience for the return of the long lost and deeply 
mourned Tis-sa-ack, who is still expected to return and bless the 
heart and wigwam of its semi-deity and greatest chief, Tu-tock- 
ah-nu-lah, with her enrapturing presence. 

The immense deposits of talus lying here, nearly a quarter 
of a mile wide, are deeply cut into and across by three main 
streams, through which the whole of the water from the Bridal 
Veil Fall impetuously rushes, and forming other sources of at- 
traction, can be pleasantly witnessed and enjoyed from the three 
substantial bridges that span those streams. 

After rounding the point easterly of the Bridal Veil Fall, al- 
though both the Kibbon Fall and El Capitan are immediately in 
front of us, we must not allow their attractive presence to divert 
our attention altogether from a portion of anotlier moraine, that 
is lying directly on our right ; or, to omit noticing the rapids that 
are bounding in such frolicsome glee over and among the glacial- 
rounded bowlders that were washed from the terminal moraine 


before mentioned, as these continue to the El Capitan iron bridge, 
and over these rapids trees have constructed an avenue of great 


Passing down the Valley on its northern side, and up on its 
southern, may, inadvertently, lead us to overlook the view from 
the lower iron, or El Capitan bridge. This would be an unde- 
sirable oversight, inasmuch as, in addition to the river ends of the 
terminal moraine, which it is thought once converted the upper 
end of the Valley into a lake, and which are so plainly visible here, 
a magnificent view is presented when looking eastwardly not only 
of the Merced River in the foreground, but of Cloud's Rest, ten 
miles away, in the far-oft' distance. This name of "Cloud's Rest" 
is derived from the interesting fact that clouds are frequently 
resting upon this mountain when there is not another cloud visible 
anywhere else upon the whole vaulted lirmament. Looking west 
another view of the rapids, and of the tree-vista inclosing them, 
can be obtained. After crossing the bridge and returning to the 
southern side, up which we are supposed to be traveling, we come 
to the 


Two very noticeable and remarkable formations; towering up 
as they do on our right, alone, and unsupported by any con- 
tiguous mountain for over seven hundred feet above their base, 
like two immense cathedral spires, suggested the appropriate 
name. The Indians call them Poo-see-nah Chuck-ka, on account 
of their resemblance to the acorn store baskets of that people. 
According to the Wheeler U. S. Survey the most southerly one is 
two thousand six hundred and seventy-eight feet above the road; 
and that northerly two thousand five hundred and seventy-nine 

On one occasion (October 6, 1877), the writer, with Mr. S. C. 
Walker, the photographer, accompanied by two Indians as pack- 
ers, carried photographic "apparatus, and worked our way up the 

rock-strewn gorge Iving at the base of these spires, to the sag or 




1 '*!<'■ H.'lMtype Eds- Co., i;ost.j 



hollow between the two highest of the "Three Graces," foi* its 
view. And it luas a view, ixtr excellence. The deep-cut, darkly 
frowning, and almost vertically -walled gorge up which we climbed 
was full of large and lofty sugar pines, firs, cedars, and spruces 
that were growing among huge blocks of granite that had at 
some time peeled from ofi" the sides of the gorge, and, being scat- 
tered everywhere, made the climb anything but easy. But, when 
once there, I believe it no exaggeration, or dreamy hyperbole, not 
only to assert but to affirm, that from what scenes I have person- 
ally witnessed in many lands, and from other individuals have 
heard, as well as from the illustrations and descriptions that have 
been published, I am convinced that this is probably 


I am aware that this is saying much. I am also aware that 
to those who do not know me it will be received with many grains 
of qualifying allowance; but, I nevertheless present it as the con- 
viction of my unprejudiced judgment to bean actual, positive, and 
undeniable fact, and one to be verified the moment the Board of 
Commissioners shall have made the ascent possible by a good trail. 
To describe such a scene, therefore, would be simply impossible, so 
I will merely outline the principal points seen from thence. And, 
first to be mentioned, are the Cathedral Spires themselves, which 
are not only to be seen with their rocky needles standing boldly 
out from and above the mountain of which they form a part, but 
their entire masonry is visible from apex to base, a height of seven- 
teen hundred feet; and which is apparently as true as though 
built by a plummet board, adjusted to an angle of say eighty-five 
degrees, or only five degrees from the perpendicular. While, on 
the other side is a perfect wall, standing at almost as steep an 
angle as the spires, and yet reaching to the foreground of the 

Deep down the narrow, tree-darkened hollow that is bounded 
by these walls, and over the tops of the trees, two thousand nine 
hundred feet below lies the Valley, the sheen of its serpentine 


river sparkling glintingly among the trees, with its meadows and 
pools, and gardens, and buildings there before one. All the north- 
ern rim of the Valley, with the Yo Semite Fall, North Dome, 
Koyal Arches, Washington Tower, Mirror Lake, Mt. Watkins, 
and the whole distance up Ten-ie-ya Canon, and the trail to 
Glacier Point, lie directly visible on our left; while over the 
shoulder whence spring the " Spires," Cloud's Rest, The Sentinel, 
Sentinel Dome, Profile, or Fissure, Mountain, can be seen ; and in 
the f ar-oif distance stands Ten-ie-ya, Monastery, Cathedral, Echo, 
Temple, Unicorn, and other peaks, stretching to the very crest of 
the Sierra Nevada Mountains. To those who can imagine what 
a picture could be when filled in by vertical precipices, and jut- 
ting or overhanging cliffs ; the distance draped with ethereal haze ; 
and the whole heightened by the magical effects of light and shade, 
it would seem almost impossible that such a scene could be over- 
drawn ; or the statement questioned that this is one of the most 
sublimely impressive views on earth. 

Returning in imagination to the Valley again, and still 
advancing up its southern side, we can see other wild and weird- 
like peaks and rents in the mountain's face, and among the niches 
of every cliff", so that it is not this or that particular rock, or 
chasm only, that attracts so much, but the infinite and ever- 
changing variety of all. Among these, however, one point stands 
out somewhat prominently, known as 


The first appellation comes from the many faces that can be 
distinctly traced upon its northeastern edge at almost any hour 
of the day, but the afternoon's light streaming in between the 
points defines them strongest It is in this crag, moreover, that 
the fissure (described on page 344) cuts so deep a crevice. The 
crown of this bluff" is nearl}' three hundred feet higher than any 
of its illustrious compeers in this immediate vicinity, and its 
vertical depth greater than all. if we except El Capitan. The 
view from it. therefore, is ver}^ fine. A little northerly of this 

rni: ro Semite valley 


is a light-colored spot, Avhence, in 1857, a chip fell, the fZebris 
from which was said to cover over thirty acres. But as we keep 
advancing there is one strikingly prominent mountain before us, 
and one that seems to have been in front of us for miles. It is 
" The Sentinel, " and near to it the Sentinel Cascades, and as they 
are in such close proximity we will, if you please, take a brief 
glance at both 


Although the former has been the most conspicuous for some 


Drawn by Thus,. Jlurali: 

THE SENTINEL (3,06'J feet above the Valley). 


time, let us look first at the two leaping cascades, as they shoot 
down from the ragged-edged crest, three thousand four hundred 
feet above us. When these are fullest, their picturesque effect is 
simply marvelous; and when their volume is less, the foaming 
whiteness is merely changed to diamond brightness, and they are 
always beautiful. 

The "Sentinel" is the great central landmark of the Valley; 
and, whether draped in belts of cloud, or gilded by a golden sunset, 
its isolated prominence is ever imposingly magnificent. Looking 
at it from the objective point whence Mr. Moran's sketch was taken, 
or Mr. Fiske's photograph, its front resembles an obelisk, or the 
tower of some vast cathedral, of which it forms a part. Its face 
is almost vertical for nearly two thousand feet. It is said that 
the Indians once used this not only as a watch-tower, but as a 
signal station, on all important occasions. They call it Loya. 

Now although the climb to its summit is both difficult and 
dangerous, one lady — and one only (Mrs. Geo. B. Bayley, of Oak- 
land, California) — has undertaken the task, and with her 
husband, has stood upon its highest point; and there placed a 
white flag, that remained until it had been waved into shreds. 

Soon we cross the streams that have formed the Sentinel 
Cascades; stop at, or pass, Leidig's Hotel, Fiske's photographic 
gallery,. Yo Semite chapel, Galen Clark's residence. Cook's bath 
house, Coffman & Kenney's livery stable. Cook's Hotel, and Mr. 
Thomas Hill's studio — with the Yo Semite Falls and Eagle Peak 
nearly all the time in sight. Between Cook's and Barnard's 
hotels there is a stretch of tree-arched road, bordered on the right 
by a frowning bluff, upon the side and shoulder of which are 
unmistakable evidences of the attrition caused by the passage 
down of the old-time glaciers, that once filled this Valley 
with ice. Beyond this we arrive at the store, Mrs. Glj^nn's, the 
butcher's and blacksmith's shops. Mis. Fagersteen's photograph 
rooms, Sinning's cabinet shop, the Guardian's office, Mr. C. D. 
Robinson's studio, and then Barnard's, a mile beyond which is 
the new hotel. 

Mel 111 jpe tui;rivmg Co, Bostnn. 



I would not enter on my list of friends 

(Though graced with polish'd manners and fine sense, 

Yet wanting sensibility) the man 

Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm. 

— Cowpek's Task, Bk. VI. 

To tell men that they cannot help themselves is to fling them into reckless- 
ness and despair. 

— Froud's Short Studies on Great Subjects. 

Be noble! and the nobleness that lies 
In other men, sleeping, but never dead, 
Will rise in majesty to meet thine own. 

— Lowell's Sonnet, IV. 

Shortly after taking up our permanent residence in Yo Sem- 
ite an Indian presented himself one morning, when the following 
colloquy ensued: — 

"You li-kee Indian man wor-kee? " " Are you a good worker?" 
"You no li-kee me, you no kee-pee me, sab-be (understand)?" 
"Well! that seems fair enough. How much-e you want, you 
work-e one day?" "One dol-lar I tink wa-no (good)." "All 
right. What's your name?" "Tom." " Well, Tom, you come 
work-e to-morrow morning; sa-be, ' to-morrow ' morning? " "Seh 
{Si, in Spanish), me sab-be." "Seven o'clock?" "Seh, me 
sab-be." "You better come before seven, Tom, then you get- 
tee good breakfast; Indian man work-e better, he eat-ee good 

At this latter proposition Tom's somewhat somber face lighted 
up with a glow of child-like pleasure; and, when the following 
morning came, he was on hand both for his meal and labor 
also. Finding him to be the most faithful Indian worker that I 



had ever seen — for, as a rule, Indians do not take kindly to steady- 
labor — after some ten or twelve days, as we were becoming short 
of desirable articles for the household, and our packer was unwell, 
questions were put and answered thus : "Tom, you sa-be packing ?" 
" Po-co " (little). " You sa-be Big Oak Flat, Tom ? " " Seh. Me 
sab-be Big Oak Flat." " You li-kee go Big Oak Flat, get-tee me 
some sugar, some flour, and such things? " " You li-kee me go, I 
go." "All right, Tom, you get-tee five horses — sa-be 'five'" 
(counting the number on my fingers). "Seh. Me sab-be." "Four 
you pack, one you ride, .sa-be? " " Seh. Me sab-be." 

Promptly at seven o'clock Tom was on hand, with the horses ; 
when I handed him a letter, and explained to him that that paper 
would tell the store-keeper at the settlements the kind and quan- 
tity of articles wanted, and which would be handed to him for 
packing nicely, and bringing safely to us. Then, laying five 
$20 pieces, one by one, upon the palm of his hand, I said to 
him, " Tom, you ta-kee these five $20 pieces to Mr. Murphy, 
store-keeper, at Big Oak Flat (as Mr. Murphy no sa-be me), and 
they will pay for what he give you to bring us." " Seh. Me 
sab-be." Tom's eyes sought mine with bewildering yet gratified 
astonishment (while they filled with tears) ; as though apparently 
questioning the possibility that I could trust him, an Indian, 
with five horses, and as many $20 pieces. He seemed to have 
suddenly grown several inches taller, and more erect than I had 
ever seen him ; as with an open and manly look he slowly re 
sponded, " Wa-no. Me go. Me ta-kee money. Me pack-ee suga.r 
— flour, here." 

When Tom returned with everything perfectly straight, and 
in good order, he was evidently as proud and delighted as a New 
foundland (or any other) dog could have been with two tails. 
His face had a smile all over it— an uncommon sight in an Indian. 
From that time Tom was not only my friend, but a friend to 
every member of the family; and he took as much interest in 
everything as though it was his own. The confidence reposed in 
him had completely conquered the Indian, by making him to feel 
that he was a nrian. 


A few weeks after this he wanted to pay a visit to his people, 
whose camp was some forty miles below; and, as he said, "eat-ee 
some acorn blead {bread, as they seldom sound the r) and go hab 
fandango " (Indian dance). It may be cause for wonder that the 
best of good food, when provided and cooked by white people, is 
only satisfactory for a time, to the Indian; he longs (not for 
"the flesh-pots of Egypt," perhaps, but) for "acorn blead." It is 
an apparent physical necessity to him. 

HOW tom's life was once saved. 

Upon Tom's return an almost uncontrollable excitement 
seemed to quiver through his whole frame, while the perspiration 
exuded from his hair, and rolled down his somber face in streams. 
Breathlessly sinking upon a chair, a wild, agonizing frenzy, dis- 
torting every muscle of his features ; while gleams of fire seem 
ingly shot from both his eyes, as soon as his lungs covild perform 
their office, and his tongue and voice could find utterance, he 
gasped out, "Oh! Mr. H., Mr. H., Indian men come kill-ee me." 
"Hullo! Tom, what on earth have you been doing, that Indians 
should want to kill you ? " Gathering breath and effort gradually, 
yet simultaneously, he exclaimed, " Oh ! Indian man say I kill-ee 
one Indian ; I no kill-ee Indian man, Indian man kill-ee Big Mead- 
ows — I no go Big Meadows — I go Bull Creek. They tink I 
kill-ee him, though, and Indian men — five (counting on his fingers) 
— come kill-ee me." " Are you sure, Tom, you no kill-ee Indian 
man?" "I sure I no kill-ee Indian. Howl kill-ee Indian man 
Big Meadows — I no go Big Meadows? I save I no kill-ee him. 
You hi-de me somewhere?" "You sure you no kill-ee Indian 
man, Tom, eh? " "I sure I no kill-ee him." "All right, Tom, 
then I hide you somewhere." 

This had been successfully accomplished but about twenty 
minutes when up came the five Indians mentioned by Tom, 
"armed to the teeth," as the saying is, sweating, and almost out 
of breath; when one of them inquired, in pretty good English, 
" Have you seen Indian Tom? " " Oh! yes, Tom was here about 


half an hour ago. Is there anything the matter? " ' Yes, Tom 
killed an Indian at Big Meadows." " Yes? Why, Tom told me 
he did not kill the Indian at Big Meadows; he said that aome 
Indians thought so, but that he was not at the Big Meadows — 
he went only to Bull Creek." "Yes. Tom killed an Indian 
man at Big Meadows ; and if we find Tom we shall kill him. 
That is Indian fashion." " But, Tom told me that he did not go 
to the Big Meadow^s, and did not kill the Indian there ; and if you 
kill Tom, and Tom did not kill the Indian, as you say, then the 
Sheriff of Mariposa wall take you to jail, and by and by they will 
hang you, as they ought to do, if you kill an innocent man. You 
Indian men too fast, and too hot. You cool down a little. Then, 
when you find the man wdio did kill the Indian, have him taken 
to Mariposa; and if found guilty they wall hang him and save 
you all the trouble. You take my advice, and don't kill any 
man, especially when he may be entirely innocent of the crime 
with which you charge him." 

Although they took reluctant departure for the present, they 
evidently thought that Tom was not far away ; as they were fre- 
quently seen near, and upon the lookout. In about three days 
after their first appearance they absented themselves, and nothing 
more was seen of any Indian for over a week ; when tw^o Indian 
women came to me and asked if Indian Tom had been there. I 
replied that he had — about a week ago. " So," I suggested, as 
though questioning the truth of Tom's relation, "so Tom killed 
an Indian at Big Meadows, eh?" "No, no, no; Tom no kill-lee 
Indian Big Meadows. Two Indian men see Sam Wells kill-lee 
Indian at Big Meadows — Tom no kill-lee him." " Then if I see 
Tom I am to tell him that, eh?" "Yes, yes, I Tom's wife." 
"Oh! that is the w^ay the land lies is it? All right, if I see 
Tom I tell-lee him." 

Tom was soon seen, and the case stated, Avhen he wished me 
to invite them over. Asking them if they were not hungry (and 
it was a rare sight to see an Indian that was not), and receiving 
an affirmative answer, they were soon eating wdiere Tom could 



catch sight of them without being seen ; and in a few minutes 
afterwards they were ftll walking happily together in the bright 
sunshine as fearlessly free and as happy as children. 

When the would-be-avenging Indians made their reappear- 
ance a few days subsequent to this denouement, they acknowledged, 
though somewhat reluctantly, that Tom was proven to be entirely 
innocent of the crime ; as two other Indians had seen the murder 
committed by another man, whose resemblance to Tom had caused 
the mistaken identity, that would have cost the innocent man his 
life, had they found him at the time of their impetuous search. 


This thrilling incident very naturally made Tom's heart warm 
kindly and strongly to- 
wards the one who had 
afforded him such timely 
succor in the hour of his 
extreme need ; and there 
can be but little doubt 
that his unwearying de- 
votion and faithful serv- 
ices thereafter, in the 
best interests of all our 
family, were cause of 
many mysterious ques- 
tionings among those 
to whom the secret was 
unrevealed. The asser- 
tion, therefore, that 
gratitude is an absent 
guest to every Indian's 
heart, is not true. This 
heavenly quality welled 
up, bounteously, not 
grudgingly, in Tom's 
heart, and flowed peren- 

Photo. by & 1 u 



nially in kindly actions ; and that, too, while unsealing the fountain 
of his lips. Tom had succeeded in conquering the natural reti- 
cence of his race ; and it is to this that 1 am so largely indebted 
for many interesting facts concerning it, that are embraced in this 
chapter. I, therefore, with pleasure introduce 


Owing to his many years of faithful service in our family, all 
of the other Indians (there being many " Tom's ") called him 
''Tom Hutchings! " and as he so calls himself he evidently can- 
not be ashamed of it. Tom does not claim to be a full Yo 
Semite Indian ; inasmuch as, although his mother belonged to that 
tribe, his father was a Mono (Pah-uta). After this, I trust not 
uninteresting, introduction, please allow me to present a few facts 


The Indian Camp, and its People — Probable Numbers — Physical Charac- 
teristics — Acorns their Staple Breadstuff, How Prepared and Cooked 
— KiTCHAVi — Pine Nuts — Esculent Plants — Grass and Other Seeds — 
Wild Fruits — Fish — Game — Miscellaneous Edibles. 

I have learned 
To look on Nature, hearing oftentimes 
The still, sad music of humanity; 
Not harsh nor grating, though of ample power 
To chasten and subdue. — Wordsworth. 

One of the many attractive features of Yo Semite is the In- 
dian camp, and its interesting people — the original owners and 
first settlers. Deplorable as the fact may be, however, there are 
less than twenty living of a tribe that, in 1851, numbered nearly 
five hundred.* The remnant being representative of the prin- 
cipal customs, occupations, manner of living, habits of thought, 
traditions, legends, and systems of belief, not only of their own 
people and the surrounding tribes, but of the California Indians 
generally, a visit to their village, and a sight of its inhabitants, will 

*The causes of this astonishing decrease are maiidy given on pages 77, 7S. 


be the more inviting and instructive. Before presenting our- 
selves at 


As we would not willingly do them even an unintentional in- 
justice, let us not forget that they have always been nomadic, and 
have continuously camped out; that any appearance suggestive 
of untidiness is to be attributed more to circumstances than to men- 
tal antagonism to a higher social standard. They have no neatly 
furnished private apartments to which they can retire, and culti- 
vate the attractive mysteries of the toilet. Like people of good 
common sense they accept their position, and make the best of it. 
Even among our own friends, those who have sought the exhilarat- 
ing elixir of mountain air, or rambled far from human habitations 
in pathless forests, to luxuriate upon the sublime or beautiful, 
know how difficult it is, at such a time, to keep comfortably clean. 
It was an abstruse problem to Mark Twain, you remember, who 
had passed through sundry such experiences, to solve the possibil- 
ity of the Israelites keeping half-way clean while " camping out " 
forty years in the " Wilderness " ! And the Indians have probably 
discovered, that necessity has compelled this for more than as 
many generations. With these preliminary suggestions, let us 
now seek their picturesque habitations. 

Their principal location is just below the old, or " Folsom " 
Bridge, on the north side of the Valley, about half a mile westerly 
of Leidig's Hotel. The usual and most enjoyable manner and 
time of visiting them is during the afternoon drive, described else- 
where. Just before reaching their encampment, some singular 
structures, built upon posts, arrest our attention. These are 


The platforms of which are about four feet from the ground. 
They are generally twelve feet in height, and three and a half 
feet in diameter. The sides are formed of bushes, interlaced and 
covered with pine boughs, inverted ; the needles of which prevent 
squirrels from climbing up, yet conduct the rain down, and to the 




outside of the basket. The top is roofed by pieces of pine bark, 
cloth, or other material, securely fastened to the sides. The cen- 
ter of these rude contrivances being hollow, acorns are safely 
stored therein. These are called by the Indians poo-see-na 


Not only in and around Yo Semite, but through all the mount- 
ain districts of the State. Nor is this peculiarity confined to 
those dwelling west of the great chain of the Sierras, inasmuch 
as those upon the eastern slope embrace the opportunity of sup- 
plementing any lack in pinons, or pine nuts (Pinus monophylla), 
which constitute their principal article of diet there, for acorns; 
oaks being almost unknown on that side of the mountains. It 
is a fortunate or providential coincidence, too, that whenever the 


pinon crop fails on the eastern slope, acorns are generally abun- 
dant on the western, and vice versa. It is not an unusual sight at 
Yo Semite for a single file — and all travel single file — of Mono 
Indians (a branch of the Pah-utas, commonly called Pi-utes), 
numbering from twenty to fifty, of almost all ages, and of both 
sexes, to pass along the Valley. They come for acorns, mainly. 
Nor do they come empty-handed, as the conical baskets, and dis- 
colored sacks, at the backs of their females, abundantly prove ; 
for they are loaded down with piiions, Kit-chavi, and other articles, 
as presents, or for exchange. About the Kit-chavi there is more 
to be said hereafter. 

The little group of huts, constructed of cedar bark set on 
end, being the Indian camp, let us advance towards it somewhat 
reservedly, as a rude intruder is never welcome; and it requires 
quite an effort on their part to conquer their unpretentious diffi- 
dence and natural modesty. Remember this. After the quiet 
smile of welcome is given, a glance around Avill reveal to us that 
the women are all busy and fully occupied. Like many other 
housekeepers, their work seems never done. This one is skillfully 
plying her nimble fingers upon a water-tight basket ; that, in deftly 
arranging the frame- work of one of another kind ; as these people 
still rely entirely upon themselves for all such articles, notwith- 
standing the manifold contrivances brought within their reach by 
civilization. The woman at our left has evidently caught up the 
spirit of her more favored sisters, and is adroitly arranging the 
parts of a bright calico dress (nearly all Indians revel in bright 
colors) ; that, in repairing or turning one. Old habits are steadily, 
yet noticeably, passing away, and new — may we not devoutly hope 
better — ones are taking their places. That female with a shallow 
basket at her side, half filled with acorns, is dexterously preparing 
them for to-morrow's meal, by speedily setting each particular acorn 
on end, and with a light tap from a small pebble separating the husk 
from the kernel. Thus freed and cleaned, they are next spread 
upon a rock to dry. As these are to be fittingly prepared for 
human food, it may not be uninteresting to trace the different 



processes by which this is successfully accomplisheil. First, then, 


The morning meal being satisfactorily disposed of, nearly 

every available female in 
camp, each carrying her load, 
trudges otf to an adjacent rock 
that is capacious, smooth, as 
nearly horizontal in position 
as possible, and in which sun- 
dry mortar-like holes are 
worn. This being protected 
from the scorching sun — and 
human eyes — by bushes, or 
young pine trees, each worker 
takes her seat near the mor- 
tar ; then, armed with a rock- 
pestle, weighing from six to 
ten pounds, the toilsome labor 
of grinding acorns into meal 
commences, by pounding 
them. This process is neces- 
sarily very slow. By this 
primitive method grass and 
other seeds are also ground 
into flour or meal. 
When the acorns thus pulverized are about the fineness of 
ordinary corn meal, as the acorn flour needs to be relieved of its 
bitter tannin to prevent constipation, it is carried to the nearest 
stream where there is an abundance of clean white sand , in which 
a hollow is scooped, about three feet in width, by six inches in 
depth, and which is patted evenly and compactly down, prepara- 
tory to a continuation of the intended process. Meanwhile other 
Indians have been building a flre, and almost covering it with 

roundish rocks from four to six inches in diameter. These are 



jy Tin: heart of the sierras. 

made nearly white 
with heat. Water- 
tio'ht baskets, half 
filled with water, are 
then brought, into 
w h i c h a suitable 
quantity of the acorn 
meal is well stirred. 
The hot rocks are 
then dropped in, and 
moved around, until 
the whole nass is 
made, and kept, sim- 
mering (without al- 
lowing it to boil) f( li- 
nearly half an hour, 
when it is all dipped 
out, and carefully indian woman gkinuinu acorns and seeds. 

poured into the shallow sand-bowl, if it may be so called; to which 
hot water is constantly added, for the of infiltrating 
the meal ; and by percolation removing the tannin therein con- 
tained, into the sand beneatli. This process is repeated until every 
perceptible vestige of discoloration by the tannin is removed. 


The meal thus divested of its bitter principle and deleterious 
qualities, is ready for removal from its sand-basin to a basket'. 
To accomplish this, free of sand, requires very careful manip- 
ulation ; but, after removing all the soft, pulpy material possible, 
by cautious handling, without including a grain of sand, the 
remainder is stirred rapidly round in a conical basket, half filled 
with water; when the meal settles on tlie sides of the basket, and 
the sand dcnvn into the inverted cone at the bottom. In this way 
the whole is secured with but trifling waste of material. 

It is now i^eady to be made into bread, or, rather, mush. 




Water-tight baskets, containing the requisite quantity of clear 
water, are again pressed into service, and hot rocks added as 
before, until it is made to boil, this time. When the meal is suffi- 
ciently cooked, it is allowed to cool enough to handle, and is 
then served up by setting it down upon the ground ; around which 
every expected participant begins to assemble in anticipation of 
the feast provided. Before commencing to eat, on all great 
occasions at least, the mush is first sprinkled over with Kit-chavi. 
As this is one of the mysteries of Indian cuisine, it is not to be 
expected that every one is familiar with its nature; a little expla- 
nation, therefore, of what this condiment consists, may make the 
matter somewhat plainer. 


On the western borders of Mono Lake (whence man}' of the 
Indian visitors of Yo Semite come), there is an extensive stretch 
of foam forms every summer ; and soon thereafter it is covered 
with swarms of flies; which, when they rise en iviftsse, literally 


darken the air; these, "fly-blow" the foam; and, later in the sea- 
son, make it alive with larvae and pupse from one end to the other. 
At such times every available native, young and old, and of both 
sexes, repairs to Mono Lake with baskets of all kinds and sizes, 
old coal-oil cans, and such articles ; and, collecting this foam with 
its living tenants, repair to the nearest fresh water stream (Mono 
Lake water being impregnated with strong alkalies), and there 
wash away the foam, while retaining all the larvse and pupae. 
This is spread upon flat rocks to dry; and when cured, is called 
"Kit-chavi," and thenceforward forms one of the luxuries of Indian 
food, and becomes their substitute for fresh butter ! 

Before participating therefore in the festivities of a morning 
or evening meal, this appetizing addition is made to their acorn 
mush-bread ; when all sit, or kneel, around the unctuous viands, 
and with his or her two front fingers, converted for the time being 
into a spoon, help themselves to this unique repast, all eating from 
the same basket. 

Wild greens, clover, gnats, grubs, and mushrooms; grass, 
"weed, and other seeds, next to acorns, are their staples for food 
purposes, and the best they can command for winter consumption. 
To obtain these the women and children beat them into broad- 
topped baskets; and, tifter taking them to camp, clean, dry, and 
store them like acorns. 

Bulbous grass x'oots, eaten raw, are a favorite food; from 
the digging of which, so frequently seen in early days, sprung the 
despised terra " Digger Indians," now so generally, and so un- 
worthily in use to designate the lowest class of mountain Indians 
throughout the State. All kinds of wild fruits, excepting the 
wild coffee, Rharnnus Californica, are partaken of with a\'idity. 
The young shoots of the Hosackea vetch, used as greens, are con- 
sidered the finest of all native vegetables. 


These are eaten as meat and cooked in various ways. Some- 
times they are caught, threaded on a string, and hung over a fire 



until they are slightly roasted, then eaten from the string. At 
others the grass is set on fire, which both disables and cooks them ; 
when they are picked up and eaten, or stored for future use. 

The most effectual method for securing grasshoppers, when 
they are abundant, is to dig a hole sufficiently deep to prevent 
their jumping out; then to form -a circle of Indians, both old and 

young, with a bush in each hand, 
and commence driving them 
towards it until they fall in, and 
are there caught. They are 
thence gathered into a sack, and 
saturated with salt water; after 
which a trench is dug, in which 
a good fire is built, and when 
it is sufficiently heated, the ashes 
are cleaned out, a little grass put 
upon the bottom, when the grass- 
hoppers are put in, and cov- 
ered with hot rocks and earth 
until they are sufficiently cooked. 
They are then eaten in the same 
manner as we eat shrimps ; or are 
put away to mix with acorn or 
seed mush, when they are ground 


pooj) into a kind of paste. Deer, bear, 

rabbits, rats, squirrels, gophers, and almost every other animal, 
excepting the polecat; with birds of every kind, and fish, are 
necessarily made subservient to their physical wants. 

When the larger game is hunted, a large district is surrounded 
by every available Indian, and experts with the bow and arrow 
are stationed at a given point ; when, by fire and noise, the affrighted 
animals are driven towards that spot, where they are killed. 
These general hunts take place in the fall of the year, when every- 
thing being dry is easily ignited, and when a winter supply of 
meat is needed. It is to this system of procuring game that so 


many forest trees have been burned in past years ; but the sheep- 
herder's vandal hands, mainly, are perpetuating this infamously 
wanton practice at the present time. Hunting, however, is too 
active an employment to square with their ideas of ease and 
comfort; so that to comport with these, and yet secure their game, 
they drive it into swampy places, where they mire down and are 
then caught and killed. 


To the casual observer, a fandango, or Indian ball, is a wild, 
careless, free-and-easy dancing and feasting party, and nothing 
more. To the Indians it is a friendly gathering together of the 
remnants of their race, for the purpose of cementing and perpetu- 
ating the bonds of family and tribal union more closely ; and at 
the same time to orally transmit to posterity the noble deeds and 
valorous actions of their ancestors. 

Any particular tribe wishing to give a fandango sends mes- 
sengers to all the chiefs of the surrounding tribes, to whom they 
wish to give the invitation ; accompanied by a bundle of reeds or 
sticks, which indicates the number of days before it takes place; 
but sometimes notches are cut in a twig, or knots are tied in a 
string, for that purpose. 

Extensive preparations are immediately entered upon for a 
grand feast, and everything within the limit of Indian purvey- 
ance is pressed into service; nor is it to be supposed that those 
giving the invitation are the onl}^ contributors, by any means; 
inasmuch as every attendant takes something to make up the 
general variety ; and to add to that valuable quality in an Indian's 
estimation — quantity. At such times, too, presents of blankets 
and other valuables are brought and exchanged. 

At these festive seasons, both males and females ch-ess themselves 
according to their most extravagant notions of paint and feathers. 
Several weeks are frequently consumed in making head-dresses, 
and other ornaments, of shells, beads, top-knots of quails, and the 
heads and wings of red-headed woodpeckers. When the great 
day of the feast arrives, groups of Indians may be seen wending 




their hilarious way to the festive scene; ami as many have to 
travel fifteen or twenty miles, the whole first day is consumed 
in assembling together, and gossiping over family matters. In 
the evening, when all are assembled, the "band" (which con- 
sists of about a dozen men, with reed whistles, and wooden 
castanets, with which they beat the time) beghis a monotonous 
feiv-feui with their whistles; while the dancers follow their leader 
with the castanets, and with them keep time with a perpetual 
hi-yah, Jd-yah, until they are out of breath, when they take their 
seats for a rest, and listen to their orator for the occasion. 

These fandangos are generally kept up for a number of days ; 
and, as frequently happens at others much more fashionable, it is 
at such times that many an Indian youth and maiden fall irre- 
trievably in love, and seek to unite their hands and fortunes in 
wedlock. When this is understood, and the union receives the 
approbation of their jDarents and friends, both are allowed a per- 
sonal inspection of each other in private; and if this proves satis- 
factory, the fortunate lover gathers together all his worldly wealth, 
and repairs with it to his expected future father-in-law. The old 
man generally appears surprised, hesitates, inspects the candi- 
date for his daughter's hand from head to foot, then the amount 



of earthly goods the lover has brought him, as an equivalent for his 
daughter's hand and heart. After some eloquent pleading, the 
old man's thoughtful face generally relaxes into a smile, and 
as soon as he has accepted the presents, the ceremony is ended, 
and thenceforward they are considered man and wife. 


Strange as it may seem, the Indian men will not infrequently 
gamble away their wives, as they do other kinds of property, (for 
they are inveterate gamblers); and they are far too apt to con- 
sider the wife but little better than a chattel for barter and sale. 
Quite often a given number of Indian men agree to fight for a 
certain number of Indian women, on which occasion each party 
puts up equally. As soon as either side is victorious, the women, 
who have been awaiting this " hazard of the die " as interested spec- 
tators, arise, and without hesitancy, or question, accompany the 
victors; and are apparently contented with the result. To ob- 
tain women was frequently the only cause for war among them. 
And when any particular tribe ran short of squaws, it uncere- 
moniously stole some from an adjoining tribe; which, on the very 
earliest favorable occasion, returned the doubtful compliment, 
and sometimes with considerable interest. Polygamy is quite 
common, some of the chiefs having from three to seven wives, the 
number being limited only, (as among the Mormons,) by their 
ability to support them. 


This profession is very popular among the Indians, and al- 
though their knowledge of medical science, even in its rudest and 
most primitive form, is much more limited than with the tribes 
east of the Rocky Mountains, they sometimes perform a few 
simple cures, and on this account are looked up to with consider- 
able respect. The Indians have great confidence in their " medi- 
cine men," and believe them endowed with the power of insuring 
health, or of causing sickness, or even death ; but if they think that 
the doctors have used this power arbitrarily, or unworthily, they are 
unceremoniously put to death. Their methods for relieving pain 
and curing disease are as unique as they would be amusing to 
a skillful practitioner. They have, however, learned a little of 
the sophistry and finesse of the profession, and use it with con- 
siderable skill. As illustrative of this, as they generally scarify, 
to suck away all pain, they will sometimes put small stones, or 



bits of stick, or wild coffee berries, into their mouth, and produce 
these to the patient to induce him to believe that this or that has 
been the caust; of all his pain ; and as he has been successful in re- 
moving the cause, the pain will naturally cease ! 


They all believe in a good spirit, and also in a very evil 
spirit. The good spirit, according to their apprehension, is al- 
ways good; and, therefore, ever to be loved and trusted, without 
fear or dread ; that, consequently, there is no use in giving them- 
selves any trouble about him. But not so with the evil spirit, as 
in liis nature are concentrated all the bad qualities of twenty 
Pohono's condensed into one; and, therefore, he is the one that 
needs watching, and conciliating if possible. 

They also believe in a pleasant camping ground after death, 
one that is most bountifully supplied with every comfort, and where 
they will again meet all their relatives and friends, and live with 
them in ease and plenty forever. This camping ground is pre- 
sided over by the good spirit, a semi-deity or chief of great power 
and kindness, and who is ever making them supremely happy. 
They also believe that the evil spirit is doing everything that 
he can to make them miserable, and keep them away from this 
happy camping ground; that, therefore, their principal religious 
duties consist in avoiding, circumventing, or placating him. 

They believe that the heart is the immortal part, and that if 
the body is buried the evil one stands perpetual guard over the 
grave, and will eventually secure the heart as his wished-f or prisoner 
and prize. With the view of defeating this wicked purpose, they 
invariably burned the bodies of their dead (a practice that has 
been largely discontinued in later years, and the example of the 
whites followed, in burying them), thinking by noises and grotesque 
motions, accompanied by expressions of poignant sorrow, to attract 
the attention of the evil one while the body is burning, and thus 
give the heart the opportunity of slipping away unobserved. 
Hence their custom of cremation. 



When an Indian is known to be near his departure to the 
spirit land — as they are all in a certain sense more or less spirit-* 
ualists — his head is generally pillowed in the lap of his wife, or 
dearest friend ; when, all standing around commence a low, mourn- 
ful chant upon the virtues of the dying ; and with this soothing- 
lullaby falling upon his ears, he passes to the deep sleep of death. 
As soon as his heart has ceased to beat, the sad news is carried 
by runners to all his relatives, both far and near; and the low 
chant is changed to loud and frantic wailings ; accompanied by 
violent beatings of the chest with their clenched fists : while with 
tearful eyes directed upwards, they apostrophize the spirit of the 
departed one in their own behalf. 

It is a singular fact that although some Indians now bury 
their dead, and others burn them, in either case the same prepara- 
tions are made for final disposition, which are as follows: A 
blanket is spread upon the ground, and the corpse laid thereon, 




when a brother, or other near relative, carefully, but firmly, folds 
.the knees up towards the chin, places the arms down over them, 
and then binds the body and limbs together as tightly as it is possi- 
ble so to do. All this time the wild howling and wailing continues 
until the body is ready; then, for about twenty minutes, or half 
an hour, the mourning ceases ; and not a sound is allowed to in- 
trude upon the stillness and rude solemnity of the scene. At a 
given signal all rise simultaneously ; the women to renew their 
wailings, and the men to build the funeral p}Te, or to prepare the 

When the fuel, composed mainly of pitch pine and oak, is 
about two feet high, every sound again ceases ; and, amid a death- 
like stillness, the men place the body on the pyre. This accom- 
plished, additional wood is piled upon and around it, until all 
except the face is completely covered up. Then, slowly and 
solemnly, the nearest and oldest relative advances, with torch in 
hand, and Avith doep yet suppressed emotion sets the wood on fire. 


The moment the first cloud of smoke eddies up into the air, 
the discordant bowlings of the women becomes deafening, and al- 
most appalling; while the men, for the most part, look on with 
sullen and unbroken silence. 


Those who are nearest and dearest to the fire-consuming 
dead, with long sticks in their hands, dance frantically around ; 
and occasionally stir up the fire, or turn the burning body over, 
to insure its more speedy consumption by the devouring element; 
hoping by these united movements to attract the evil one's atten- 
tion, and give the heart the opportunity of eluding his watchful 
glances, and of escaping unseen to the happy camping ground. 

After the body is nearly consumed, the blackened remains 
ai"e taken from the fire, rolled up in one of their best blankets, 
or cloths, and allowed to cool a little ; when his waves, or those 
nearest and dearest, segregate the unconsumed portions, and wrap 
every piece separately in strings of beads, or other ornaments; 
they then place them carefully in a basket that has been most beau- 
tifully worked for the occasion, with any other valuables possessed 
by the departed one ; and the fire being rebuilt, the basket and 
its contents are placed upon it; with blankets, cloths, dresses, bows 
and arrows, and every other article that has been touched by the 
deceased, and all are then committed to the flames. When these 
are burned, every unconsumed log is carefully scraped, the ashes 
swept together, and the whole, with the exception of the portion 
always reserved for mourning, are then placed in another basket 
and carefully buried. All Indians, without exception, cast the 
personal property of the deceased, as well as presents of their own, 
into the grave ; so that he may want nothing when he enters the 
great camping ground, believed to be spmewhere in the far dis- 
tant West. The reserved ashes being mixed with pitch is spread 
over the faces of the female relatives as a badge of mourning ; 
and which, although hideous to our sight, is sacred to theirs ; and 
is allowed to remain until it wears off, which is generally about 
six months. Sometimes the old squaws renew their mourning 
from the cheeks to the ears. A mairied woman, when her hus- 
band dies, invariably cuts off her hair. Mr. Galen Clark, one of 
the oldest residents of Yo Semite, assured the writer that when 
m their deepest lamentations for their dead, they cry out, " Him- 
mah-lay-ah," " Him-mah-lay-ah," gesticulating westward. 



These are thy glorious works, Parent of good. 

— Milton's Paradise Lost, Bk. V, Line 153. 

The rustle of the leives in summer's hush 

When wandering breezes touch them, and the sigh 

That filters through t!ie forest, or the gush 

That swells and sinks amid the branches high, — 

'Tis all the music of the wind, and we 
Let fancy float on this iEolian breath. 

— M. G. Brainard's Music. 

But on and up, where Nature's heart 
Beats strong amid the hills. 

— Richard Milnes. 

As a rule it is desirable that the trips to Mirror Lake, and to 
the Vernal and Nevada Falls, should betaken conjointly; inas- 
much as the two can be comfortably included on the same day. 
Besides this when we are at the Tis-sa-ack Bridge, after the Tis- 
sa-ack Avenue drive we are two miles on our way to those falls. 
To avoid doubling- the two miles of distance, between Barnard's 
and the Tis-sa-ack Bridge, while utilizing the stretch gained, as 
the remaining two and three-fifths miles to Snow's Hotel have to 
be taken on horseback, our saddle animals should meet us at the 


As many persons who visit Yo Semite have never sat on a 
horse before, and many others have been entirely out of practice 
of later years, and in consequence are possibly a little nervous 
about it, it seems to me to be eminently proper that I should 
here invite their encouraging confidence in themselves, by stating 
that each horse is well trained, and knows where to set down 
every foot; so as to insure not only his own safety but that of the 


precious burden he is bearing. Then, it should be borne in mind, 
that, notwithstanding the many, many thousands who have rid- 
den up and down these mountain trails, there has never been a 
serious accident upon any one of them, in the thirty-one years 
this Valley has been opened to the public. Think of this. 


Owing to the intersecting connection that has recently been 
made between the new Anderson trail up the northern bank of 
the main Merced River, and the Snow trail on the southern bank, 
at Register Rock, a new, and if possible, more picturesque ride 
than the former one along the base of Echo Wall, has been opened 
up. Therefore, instead of crossing to the southern end of Tis- 
sa-ack Bridge, we will, if you please, take the broad and well- 
graded Anderson trail at the northern end of the bridge. Maples, 
dogwoods, oaks, pines, and cedars edge in and arch over our path ; 
and near Cold Spring — the only one on this route — grows a fine 
clump of tall and feathery Woochvm^dia ferns. By looking 
back a few yards beyond this the Valley has the semblance of a 
forest walled in; while over its distant boundary the Yo Semite 
Fall is leaping. 

Passing just immediately along the foot wall of Grizzly 
Peak, where the horse-path has been hewn out of solid granite; 
or high supporting walls have been built upon it, to make a 
thoroughfare possible here, it can be readily seen how great were 
the difficulties to be surmounted. 

The late George Anderson, who engineered and constructed 
it, and after whom it will probably be named, made a contract to 
complete it to Snow's Hotel for Si, 500. This, however, was all 
expended before Grizzly Peak was passed. A similar amount 
was voted him for finishing it, but this also was found to be far 
from sufficient; he was then engaged to continue it, ad libitum; 
but, after some $5,000 had been expended upon it, and the granite 
wall along the north side of the Vernal Fall, over which the trail 
was to run for over eleven hundred feet, had scarcely been 


touched, further work upon it was for the present suspended. 
This broad and substantial trail, however, remains a monumental 
acknowledgment of Anderson's skill, pluck, indomitable will, 
and undiscourageable perseverance. 

This trail (almost wide enough for a wagon road), pre- 
sents sublimely delightful pictures of the rushing, boiling, surg- 
ing river ; and the finest of all views, of the Too-lool-a-we-ack, or 
Glacier Canon, stretching the entire length of it to its four hundred 
feet water-fall, near the Horseshoe Grotto at its head. This canon 
iscalled by Prof. J. D. Whitney the " Illilouette," a supposed Indian 
name ; but I have never questioned a single Indian that knew any- 
thing whatever of such a word; while every one, without an 
exception, knows this canon either by Too-lool-a-we-ack or Too- 
lool-we-ack ; the meaning of which, as nearly as their ideas can 
be comprehended and interpreted, is the place beyond which was 
the great rendezvous of the Yo Semite Indians for hunting deer. 
However this may have been, the way up to it was certainly 
never through this canon, if it always had surroundings as wildly 
impassable as the present ones. 

VIEW FROM Anderson's old blacksmith shop. 

Before crossing the Merced River, those who are good walk- 
ers and delight in grand scenes, should leave their horses at the 
junction of the trails, and make their way afoot to the top of the 
debris at the back of Anderson's old blacksmith shop ; as thence 
magniticent views are obtained of both the Vernal and Nevada 
Falls, with all their varied mountainous surroundings. Before 
very long a good horse-path will probably be made to this point; 
and, possibly, to the foot of the Vernal Fall, on the north side 
the river. 


Those who have ever witnessed the glorious scene this fall 
presents from the Lady Franklin Rock, some two hundred yards 
above, can form an approximating idea of its impressive majesty 
from this fine standpoint. Dr. Wm. B. May, Secretary to the 



Board of Commissioners, thus reports this scene to the Board: 
" Standing upon the new bridge, with the Vernal Fall in the 
near upper view, and the wealth and war of rushing waters 
beneath one's feet, there is a presence of power and grandeur, 
hardly equaled in the Valley." The musical Merced, as it roars, 
and gurglingly rushes among and over huge bowlders, that here 
throng the channel of the river, possibly calls to memory that 
passage of holy writ: "And I heard as it were the voice of a 
great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the 
voice of mighty thunderings, saying. Alleluia; for the Lord God 
omnipotent reigneth." 


This is an immense, overhanging, smooth-faced " chip " of 
rock about the size of an ordinary village church ; upon which \erj 
many have, at various times and seasons, inscribed their names ; 
not so much for expected immortality, perhaps, as to inform their 
friends, who may at some subsequent season see it, that they have 
been here. There is one entry upon a sloping side rock, that is 
perhaps worthy of notice, as it reads, " Camped here August 21, 
1863. A. Bierstadt, Virgil Williams, E. W. Perry, Fitzhugh 
Ludlow." It M'as during this visit to the Valley that Mr. Bier- 
stadt made the sketch from which his famous picture, " The 
Domes of the Yo Semite," was afterwards painted. 


This name was given in honor of the devoted wife of the 
great Arctic voyager. Sir John Franklin, who paid Yo Semite a 
visit in 1863. From this rock one of the best of all views is 
obtained of 


The Indian name of this magnificent water-leap is "Pi-wy- 
ack," which, if it could be literally interpreted, would express a con- 
stant shower of scintillating crystals. Seen from below, it is an 
apparently vertical sheet of water, of sparkling brightness, and 

of almost snowy whiteness, leaping into a rock-strewn basin at 


its foot; whence vast billows of tinely comminuted spray roll forth 
in suro-inof waves, and out of which the most beautiful of rain- 
bows are built, to span the ano-ry chasm with a befitting halo of 
exalting glory. This fall, if possible, impresses one more than 
any other with the feeling of Infinite Power, 

Its vei-tical height, by nearly every measurement, is three 
hundred and fifty feet; and its breadth on top, varying of course 
somewhat with the differing stages of water, is about eighty feet. 
The Wheeler U. S. Survey corps made the altitude of this fall 
three hundred and forty-three feet. Professor "Whitney, State 
Geologist, thus speaks of it: — 

The first fall reached in ascending the canon is the Vernal, a perpen- 
dicular sheet of water with a descent varying greatly with the sea.son. 
Our measurements give all the way from 315 feet to 475 feet for the vertical 
height of the fall, between the months of June and October. The reasou 
of these discrepancies seems to lie in the fact that the rock near the bottom 
is steeply inclined, so that a precise definition of the place where the per- 
I^endicular part ceases is very difhcult amid the blinding spray and foam. 
As the body of water increases, the force of the fall is greater, and of 
course it is thrown farthest forward when the mass of w^ater is greatest. 
Probably it is near the truth to call the height of the fall, at the average 
stage of the water in June or July, 400 feet. The rock behind this fall is 
a jjerfectly square-cut mass of granite, extending across the canon, etc. 

Now, inasmuch as, according to Professor Whitney's admis- 
sion, it is a "perpendicular sheet of water," and "the rock behind 
this fall is a perfectly square-cut mass of granite extending across 
the canon," I must confess my inability to see that there could, 
by any possibility, be a difference, at any time, of more thr.n a 
foot or two at most ; as, when the water was highest on the top, 
the same result would be noticeable in the pool at the bottom ; 
thus precluding the probability of a difference of one hundred and 
sixty feet in a "perpendicular" fall of three hundred and fifty 
feet. Had the steep inclination spoken of been applied to the 
Nevada Fall wall, it would have been perfectly correct, Init it is 
not in the least degree so when speaking of the Vernal. 



Many attempt this when the fall is fullest ; but, novel as the 
experience may be, the proceeding, in my judgment, is not among 
the wisest to the average visitor. Over two hundred feet of alti- 
tude has to be attained through blinding spray ; which not only 
closes the eyes, but takes away the breath needed for the climb. 
It is far better to come down through this, and have it helpfully 
at our backs, than defiantly and drenchingly in our faces. But, 
should it be attempted, one is soon enveloped in a heavy sheet of 
spray, that is driven down in such gusty force as to resemble a 
heavy beating storm of comminuted rain. It is true that to an 
athletic climber, with good lungs, it is not only possible, but en- 
joyable ; and, moreover, is very soon accomplished. Ladies, how- 
ever, attempting this will need suitably short dresses ; or they will 
not only be inconvenienced at every step, but incur the danger of 
falling ; and, possibly, of rolling down into the angry current below. 


Prudence, therefore, suggesting that this should be deferred 
until our return, let us retrace our steps to the horses at Register 
Rock ; that, by this time, are sufticiently rested to carry us safely 
up the zigzagging trail to the top of the hill, some eight hundred 
feet above us. At almost every turning in the trail its sinuosities 
enable us to look upon the members of our party, and exchange 
with them a greeting look, a kindly word, or snatches of a 
favorite song. Our progress upward is necessarily slow, as the 
animals need to pause for breath, if not for strength ; but trees 
and tree shadows, mossy rocks, and towering cliffs bespeak ad- 
miring thoughts for every moment. When about two-thirds of 
the climb has been overcome, from a corner of the trail, looking 
back, the top of Yo Semite Fall comes into view. But presently 
we find ourselves crossing the highest point on the way to Snow's, 
and before us opens a scene never to be forgotten. It is the Cap 
of Liberty, and Nevada Fall. 

Of these two there seems to be a difficulty in determining 


Photo, by Geo. Fiskek 



which is the most attractive; but, taken together as here pre- 
sented, the scenic combination is marvelously imposing. Let us, 
however, separate them, momentarily, for consideration, notwith- 
standing " they are but parts of one stupendous whole." 


Owing to the exalted and striking individuality of this boldly 
singular mountain (some most excellent judges pronouncing it 
only secondar}^ to El Capitan), it had many godfathers in early 
days; who christened it Mt. Frances, Gwin's Peak, Bellows' Butte, 
Mt. Broderick, and others; but, when Governor Stanford (now 
U. S. Senator) was in front of it with his party in 1865, and 
inquired its name, the above list 6f appellatives was enumer- 
ated, and the Governor invited to take his choice of candidates. 
A puzzled smile lighted up his face and played about his eyes, as 
he responded, "Mr. H., I cannot say that I like either of those 
names very much for that riiagnificent mountain; don't you think 
a more appropriate one could be given?' Producing an old- 
fashioned half-dollar with the ideal Cap of Liberty well defined 
upon it, the writer suggested the close resemblance in form of the 
mountain before us with the embossed cap on the coin ; when the 
Governor exclaimed, "Why! Mr. H., that would make a most 
excellent and appropriate name for that mountain. Let us so 
call it." Thenceforward it was so called; and as every one pref- 
erentially respects this name, all others have been quietly renun- 


Its altitude above Snow's Hotel, by my aneroid barometer, 
is one thousand eight hundred feet. The singularity of its form 
and majesty of presence must impress every beholder. For many 
years it was pronounced inaccessible, but a few enthusiastic spirits 
found their way to the top. Apparently such an isolated mass 
of granite could scarcely find foot-hold for a few bushes, that 
strugglingly eked out a half -starved existence ; but, strange as it 
may seem, when once upon its crown, quite a number of goodly 


sized trees and shrubs are found; among Avhich are nine juniper 
trees, Jumi^erus Occtdentalis two of which are over ten feet in 
cliaTYieter, an<l must be some fifteen liundred years okl The moss 
on these is the most beautiful wlien in blossom, of any that I 
ever saw. There are also sevt-ral Douglas spruce trees, Psvdo- 
isuga Douglasii; and the dwarf sVirub oak, Quercus duriwsa, 
manzanita, and others ; besides flowers, flowering shrubs, and ferns. 
But a view from the top of the Cap of Lilteity repays for 
all the fatigue attending the scrambling climb to reach it. 
Deep down in the Little Yo Semite Valley (the entire length of 
M'hich is visible), meanders the Mcrct-d River. Tall pines and firs, 
everywhere abundant, appeaj* like toy trees about the right size 
for walking- canes. But, let us take courage, and walk out to the 
edge of the Cap ; as, at the southeastern corner, there is a large 
glacier-left bowlder which offers clinging support for our fingers, 
while steadying our nerves, so that we can look down into the aby~s 
between us and 'the Nevada Fall; noting the form and graceful 
sweep of its waters and the dazzling whit<'ncss of its sheen}' foam. 
Echo Wall, Glacier Point, Sentinel Dome, the t:p of El Capitan, 
Eagle Peak, Yo Semite Fall, Grizzly Peak, omnipresent Half 
Dome, Cloud's Rest, and Mount Starr King, with numerous other 
points and ridges, are all in full sight. 


Returning, in thought, to the point whence our first glimpse 
of these wonders was ol)tained, we follow the sinuosities of the 
trail nearly to the brink of the chasm, into which we can see the 
Vernal Fall leaping. When nearest, it would be well here to dis- 
mount; and, carefully picking our way d(»wn within a few feet of 
the edge (where a safe and convenient opening between blocks of 
rock enables us to sit coiiifortablv\ bv leaninfr over a little, wr 
can watch the water-fall leaping from its verge on the top to tlu- 
pool at the bottom. This charming view is too often pas.sed by 
without being noticed and enjoyed. 

Before bestowing more than a passing glance on the nuiiti- 


tudinous objects of uncommon interest in this vicinity, if they 
are to be enjoyed, thoroughly and in detail, it would be Veil to 
repair directly to Snow's, for rest and refreshment. 

snow's "CASA NEVADA." 

This hospice is situated about midway between the top of the 
Vernal, and foot of the Nevada Falls It has become deservedly 
famous all over the world, not only for its excellent lunches and 
general good cheer, but from the quiet, unassuming attentions of 
mine host, and the pi(|uant pleasantries of Mrs. Snow. I do not 
think that another pair, anywhere, could be found that would 
more fittingly fill this position. And, although they do not 
know whether the number to lunch will be five or fifty-five, 
they almost always seem to have an abundance of everything 
relishable. On one occasion — and this will illustrate Mrs. Snow's 
natura. readiness with an answer — a lady, seeing so great a va- 
rioty upon the table, with eager interest inquired, "Why! Mrs. 
Snow, where on earth do you get all these things ? " "Oh! we 
raise them!" "Why! where can j'ou possibly do so, as I see 
nothing but rocks around here?" "Oh! madam, we raise ^A-em 
— on the backs of mules! " 

From the porches of the Casa Nevada, and its comfortable 
"cottage," the glorious Nevada Fall, where the whole Merced 
River makes a leap of over six hundred feet, a magnificent view 
is obtained. The roar of this fall, and the billowy mists that in 
early spring roll out such eddying and gusty masses of spray, 
arched by rainbows on every sun-lighted afternoon, will captivate 
and charm our every emotion. The best view, probabl}^ of this 
sublime spectacle is from the foot-bridge, over the hurrying and 
wave-surging river. There a scene is presented that fills the 
soul to overflowing with reverential and impressive awe ; as, with 
uncovered head, the self-prompted mental question is in silence 
asked, " Is not this the very footstool of His throne? " 

" The Nevada Fall is," says Prof. J. D. Whitney, " in every 
respect, one of the grandest water-falls in the world ; whether we 


consider its vertical height, the purity and volume of the river 
which forms it, or the stupendous scenery by which it is envi- 
roned." This is an opinion that I have frequently heard expressed 
by travelers from many lands. When in front of it, and looking 
upward, it can readily be seen that this fall differs in form with 
either of the others; for, although it shoots over the precipice in a 
curve, it soon strikes the smooth surface of the mountain, and 
spreads out into a sheet of marvelously snowy whiteness, and of 
burnished brightness, widening as it descends, until it sometimes 
exceeds one hundred feet in breadth, at the pool into which it 
is leaping. The height of this fall is given at six hundred and 
five feet by the Wheeler TJ. S. Survey corps. 

This point being as far as visitors generally go — although 
many enthusiastic climbers and appreciative lovers of the beau- 
tiful seek the wonderful view from its top — we will, for the 
present, if you please, ask the guide to take our horses down 
to Register Rock, while we say good-by to our genial host and 
his wi e, and then seek the wondrous scenes below, afoot. 


A gentleman who, from modest}^ desires that his name may 
be kept a secret, once took an unfair advantage of a confiding 
visitor, by infornung him that there were nearly eleven feet of 
snow visible here throughout the hottest days of summer, " Is 
it possible? Oh! how much I should like to see it." "Please 
allow me, then, to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Snow — the 
former being five feet nine inches, and the latter making up the 
remainder! " 

Soon after leaving " Snow's," we find ourselves upon the 
bridge that here spans the river. Listening to the roar of the 
fall above, we naturally turn our faces towards it, and then look 
down into the apparently insignificant stream beneath us, and 
think, can this be the whole of the main Merced River? It scarcely 
seems possible, but so it is. Its narrow, rock-bound, and deep, 
trough-like channel confines it to a width seldom exceeding ten 



feet. While it is swashing and rushing on let us turn our gaze 
to the opposite side, and look down on 


We now readily appreciate the apposite character of its name; 
for, down, down, the whole river is leaping, as if in very wanton- 
ness and exultation at the liberty it has gained ; and, being seized 
with an uncontrollable fit of frolicking, is tossing up diamonds 
(of the purest water) with a prodigality and apparent improvi- 
dence that would shock the sensitive acquisitiveness of " My 
Uncle," if he could see it. By the demureness of its demeanor, 
however, below, as it " pursues the even tenor of its way," it would 
seem to be laughing in its sleeve, and saying, " You see, I was 
only in fun — don't mind me! " Around a jutting pomt of rock, 
we find ourselves at the Silver Apron. 



When standing near the edge of the impetuous current, and 
looking up towards the Diamond Cascade Bridge we have so re- 
cently crossed, the whole river seems to be attempting, in the 
most reckless manner, to throw its separated and scintillating 
drops and masses into our faces ; but, unmindful of, or excusing 
this, Ave cannot resist the temptation of watching the sportive and 
sprightly fearlessness of its dashing abandon; or the aston- 
ishinglv brilliant beauty of this sparkling outlet from the Diamond 

Directly in front of us, and down at our left, the whole river - 
is scurrying over smooth, bare granite, at the rate of a fast 
express ti^ain on the best of railroads. Pieces of Avood or bark 
tossed upon its silvery bosom tell instantly of its marvelous speed 


An English gentleman who was making his temporary resi- 
dence at Snow's Hotel, amazed its inmates one morning by ap- 
pearing on the scene with his face badly cut, and his hands bleed- 
ing. With astonished surprise at such a sight Mr. Snow inno- 
cently inquired: — 

"What on earth, man, have you been doing to yourself, to 
get into such a plight as that? " 

Looking steadfastly at the questioner, while wiping the red 
stains away with as much easy deliberation as though a little dust 
had fallen upon his face, and needed removal, he hesitatingly made 
answer: — 

" Th-the-there is, you k-know, a s-smooth k-kind of place in 
the-the river, j-just b-be-low the-the lit-tle bridge, you know, 
Av-where the-the Ava-water p-passes s-somewhat r-rapidly over 
the-the-rock, you know." 

" Oh! yes," replied Mr. Snow, " I remember; that is what we 
call the ' Silver Apron.' Well ? " 

" W-Avell, w-AAdien I g-gazed up-upon it, I-I-th-thought it-it 
AV-Avould be a-a-de-lightful p-place to t-t-take a-a b-bawth, you 


"Why, sir," responded the landlord of the ' Casa Nevada,' 
aghast, and interrupting-ly, " why, the whole Merced River 
shoots over there, at the rate of about sixty miles an hour — faster 
than a locomotive goes upon a railroad! " 

"Is-is i-it p-possible ? W-we-well, I h-had n-no s-sooner d-dis- 
robed m-my-s-self, and s-set m-my f-foot in-into th-the h-hurry- 
ing c-c-current, y-you k-know, t-than i-it k-knocked m-me oft* 
m-my p-ins, you know ' an-and s-swept me d-down s-so s-swiftly 
th-that it q-quite t-took my b-breath a-away f-for a f-fcAV m-mo- 
ments, you k-know; s-sometimes i-it r-rolled me o-over and o-over, 
a-and a-at o-other t-times s-shot me d-down en-endwise, y-you 
k-know ; a-and fi-finally b-brought m-me up-in a s-sort o-of pool, 
y-you know ! " 

" The Emerald Pool," suggested Mr. Snow. 

And, b-by G-George, if I h-had no-not b-been an ex-excellent 
swim-swimmer, I s-should cer-certainly h-have 1-lost my life, you 
know ! A-and, it is n-not my h-hands a-and m-my f-face o-only- 
i-it is a-all o-over m-me-like that, you know ! " 

Opinions are sometimes hastily formed, and are not always 
supported by the best of good reasons ; and it may be so in this 
case, but the supposition most generally prevails, that, when this 
gentleman wishes to take another "bawth," he will not seek to 
do so at the " Silver Apron." 


This is a beautiful lake, or pool, whose waters are, as its 
name signifies, "emerald." The river's current, driving with 
great force into its upper margin, causes a constant succession of 
waves to disturb its surface, especially during the spring flow. 
Its mountainous surroundings, trees, and bowlders, add much to 
the picturesqueness of its character. Descending towards 


Little patches of glacier-polished rock surface are still distinctly 
visible, the striations of which indicate tlie exact course the great 
ice-field must have once taken. Approaching the edge of the 

riiuto. byGeo. Fiske. 



fall, almost before we have glanced at its diamond-fringed lip, we 
walk uj) to, and Jean upon, a natural balustrade of granite, that 
seems to have been constructed there for the especial benefit of weak - 
nerved people; so that the most timid can look over it into the 
entrancing abyss beneath. After this experience many have 
sufficient nerve to stand on the edge near the side of the fall, espe- 
cially if some less nervous person should take them by the hand, 
and thence looking down the entire front of its diamond-lighted, 
rocket-formed surface, follow it with the eye to the pool beneath. 
Sometimes bright rainbows are arching the spray at its foot, and 
which, extending from bank to bank, completely bridge the bil- 
lowy mist and angry foam below. But, turning away from these 
delightful sights, let us seek the " Ladders," so called fron:i the 
original, but which have been transformed into substantial steps 
(to which the old term " ladders " still clings), by which we can 
descend to Fern Grotto, on our way to the foot of the Vernal 
Fall Wall. 


Here a portion of the mountain has been removed, and left a 
large cave or grotto, in the interstices of which numerous ferns, 
the Adiantum pedatuTU, mainly, one of the maiden hair species, 
formerly grew in abundance ; but constant plucking of the leaves, 
and removal of the roots, have shorn it of its fern-like character, 
where they could be reached without danger. A glance at the 
accompanying engraving will enable the visitor, measurably, to 
conceive the superb, fairy-like creations of the enchanter's wand 
to be found here in winter. Hours might be pleasantly spent 
at this spot, but we must hurry through the spray to our horses ; 
and while some are returning to the hotel, let us retrace our steps, 
at least in imagination, as some more enthusiastic natures yearn 
to see what there is of interest above and beyond this ; and which 
necessarily forms the substance of the ensuing chapter. 



The broad Ijlue mountains lift their brows 
Barely to bathe them in the blaze. 

— Harriet Prescott Spoffords Daybreak. 

He prov'd the best man i' the field; and for his meed 
Was brow-bound with the oak. 

— Shakespear's Coriolmus, Act If, Sc. 2. 
Round its breast the rolling clouds are spread. 
Eternal sunshine settles on his head. 

— Goldsmith's Deserted Village. 

When standing on the bare gx-anite in front of Snow's 
Hotel, with the Nevada Fall and Cap of Liberty at our backs, 
not only are the Silver Apron, Emerald Pool, and Glacier Point 
(including McCauley's house) distinctly visible before us; but, 
looking northwestwardly, there towers up the bold, rugged point 
of a mountain, and one that has also attracted considerable 
attention from us when in the Valley, that, at its base, is skirted 
by the Anderson Trail, and which is known as 


Seen from this standpoint it resembles an immense Moorish 
head, with a long, prominent nose, formed of one large slab of 
rock set edgewise, with dwarf trees for eyebrows. This, and the 
Cathedral Spires, are the only points upon which I have never set 
foot. Mr. Chas. A. Bailey climbed this a year ago, and has 
kindly sent me the following account of his difficult feat: — 

Stimulated by the assertion that Grizzly Peak had never been 
ascended by any white man, I determined to attempt it. Leaving Snow's 
with a stout staff and a good lunch, I crept up a narrow and steep ravine, 
flanked by the great Half Dome, to a narrow connecting neck between 



the latter and the object of my ambitious climb. This was attended by 
many a rough scramble, as its nearly vertical sides loomed up like a church 
steeple. Crossing the neck to its southerly side, there was but one spot 
that was possibly accessible, and this was made so only by the aid of 
friendly bushes that grew in the interstices of the rock. An unbroken 
precipice extended from the edge of the peak to the Valley on one side, 
but which developed a slab-cleavage of granite on the other, the edge of 
which, although sharp, v.'as rapidly disintegrating; but this I mounted, 
and, by striding, clasping, hitching, and crawling along it, reached its 
farther and upper end in safety. 

Further on the ascent had to be made by climbing up a narrow 
fissure, by pressing my knees and elbows against its sides, until either 
finger or foothold could be obtained. This passed, a steeply slanting rock 
was crossed by moving over it with a crawling kind of motion, where 
friction and the force of gravitation were my principal helpers, to keep 
me from sliding over the cliff. As a safeguard, however, I kept my eye 
on some projecting slabs below, for which I intended to spring, should I 
unavoidably slide from my position. Fortunately I eventually reached 
the top, some two thousand five hundred foet above the Valley, in safety. 

The glories of these crags seem to be immeasurably heightened and 
deepened, and the uplifting peaks made grander and loftier, when their 
summits are attained by a hard and perilous climb; and the view from 
Grizzly Peak was so unlike that I had obtained elsewhere, that the very 
novelty charmed and repaid me. Resting, as it apparently does, in the 
shadow of the great Half Dome; on the edge, and almost projecting over 
the Merced River, its position is commanding] y impressive. Glacier 
Point, though seemingly near, with a much greater altitude, has a Avon- 
derfully imposing presence from this standijoint. Looking east and south, 
Mt. Broderick (the peak next westerly from the Cap of Liberty), Mt. Clark, 
and Mt. Starr King, stand grandly out above their lesser mountain brethren. 
From here, too, a bird's-eye view is obtained of Snow's, which, with its 
surrounding trees, and the Emerald Pool, looks like a place of enchant- 
ment. Perhaps the finest single vieAv of all these is the Too-lool-a-we- 
ack, or Glacier Canon, which can be seen for its entire length; with its 
narrow mountain-walled channel, its numberless bowlders, its dashing 
and foaming torrent, and its distant water-fall of some four hundred 
feet at the end. I fondly hoped to get a view of the upper falls; this, 
however, was intercepted by a jutting spur. But for this I could have 
seen the four great water-falls of the Valley from a single standpoint— 
the Vernal, Nevada, Too-lool-a-we-ack, and Yo Semite — a spectacle that 
would have been unparalleled. The first ascent of Grizzly Peak accom- 
plished, I left my card, and water bottle, as mementos of my visit. 




Until the fall of 1875 the storm-beaten summit of this mag- 
nificent landmark was a terra incognita, as it had never been 
troddtm by human feet. In the summer of 1869 three of us set 
out for the purpose of climbing it, taking the "Indian escape trail" 
north o: Grizzly Peak. There was absolutely no trail whatso- 
ever, as we had to walk on narrow ledges, and hold on with 
our feet as well as hands, trusting our lives to bushes and jut- 
ting points of 
rock. In some 
places where the 
ledges of rock 
were high, their 
tops had to be 
reached by long 
broken branches 
of trees, which 
the Indians used 
to climb ; and, 
after they were 
up, cut off the 
possibility of 
pursuit from en- 
emies, by pulling 
up these primi- 
tive ladders after 
them. Not a 
drop of water 

could we find. A snow bank increased rather than diminished 
our terrible thirst. Finally, after many hair-breadth escapes, 
and not a little fatigue, we reached the top of the lower dome, 
or eastern shoulder, and were then within four hundred and sixty 
feet, vertically, of realizing our ambitious hopes. To our dismay, 
as well as disappointment, we found a great smooth mountain 




before us, standing' at an angle of about 40*^, its surface over- 
laid and overlapped, so to speak, witli vast circular granite 
shingles, about eighteen inches in thickness. There was not 

a place to set a secure foot upon, 
or a point that we could clutch 
with our fingers. The very first 
sight put every hope to flight 
of reaching its exalted summit by 
the means at our command; and, 
deeming it a simple impossibility, 
"we surrendered at discretion," 
and returned without the realiza- 
tion of our ambitious hopes. 

Seven years after this an athletic 
youth informed the writer that he 
was "going to climb to the top of 
the Half Dome." I quietly sug- 
gested that such a feat was among 
the doubtful things of this life. 
He was willing to bet any amount 
that he could accomplish it. I informed him that I was not a 
betting man, — had never made a bfet in my life, and was too old 
to begin now, — but, if he would put a flag upon the only visible 
pine tree standing there, I wouM make him a present of twenty 
dollars, and treat him and his friends to the best champagne 
dinner that could be provided in Yo Semite. Three days after 
this he walked past without deigning to stop, or even to look at 
us, — and there was no flag floating from the top of the Half 
Dome either 1 

This honor was reserved for a brave young Scotchman, a 
native of Montrose, named George G, Anderson, who, by dint of 
pluck, skill, unswerving perseverance, and personal daring, 
climbed to its summit ; and was the first that ever successfully 
scaled it. This was accomplished at 3 o'clock p. m. of October 

12, 1875. 




The knowledge that the feat of climbing this grand mount- 
ain had on several occasions been attempted, but nevei- with suc- 
cess, begat in him an irrepressible determination to succeed in 
such an enterprise. Imbued with this incentive, he made his way 
to its base; and, looking up its smooth and steeply inclined sur- 
face, at once set about the difficult exploit. Finding that he 
could not keep from sliding with his boots on, he tried it in his stock- 
ing feet ; but as this did not secure a triumph, he tried it barefooted, 
and still was unsuccessful. Then he tied sacking upon his feet 
and legs, but as these did not secure the desired object, he covered 
it with pitch, obtained from pine trees near ; and although this 
enabled him to adhere firmly to the smooth granite, and efi'ectu- 
ally prevented him from slipping, a new difficulty presented 
itself in the great eftbrt required to unstick himself; and which 
came near proving fatal several times. 

Mortified by the failure of all his plans hitherto, yet in no 
way discouraged, he procured drills antl a hanniier, with some 
iron eye-bolts, and drilled a hole in the solid rock ; into this he 
drove a wooden pin, and then an eye-bolt; and, after fastening a 
rope to the bolt, pulled himself up until he could stand upon it; 
and thence continued that process until he had finally gained the 
top — a distance of nine hundred and seventy -five feet! All 
honor, then, to the intrepid and skillful mountaineer, Geo. G. 
Anderson, who, defying and overcoming all obstacles, and at the 
peril of his life, accomplished that in which all others had sig- 
nally failed ; and thus became the first to plant his foot upon the 
exalted crown of the great Half Dome. 

His next efibrts were directed towards placing and securely 
fastening a good soft rope to the eye-bolts, so that others could 
climb up and enjoy the inimitable view, and one that has not its 
counterpart on earth. Four English gentlemen, then sojourning 
in the Valley, learning of Mr. Anderson's feat, were induced to 
follow his intrepid example. A day or two afterwards. Miss S. 
L. Dutcher, of San Francisco, with the courage of a heroine, 
accomplished it; and was the first lady that ever stood upon it. 


i'T 1 




Photo, by S. C. Walker. Peu Sketch, by Mrs. Brod I 


(Looking East up Ten-ie-ya Canon.) 


In July, 1870, Miss L. E. Pershing, of Pittsburg, Pa., the 
writer, and three others found their M^ay there. In October fol- 
lowing, six persons, among them a lady in her sixty-fifth year, 
and a young girl, thirteen years of age (a daughter of the 
writer), and two other ladies, climbed it with but little difficulty, 
after Anderson had provided the way. Since then very many 
others have daringly pulled themselves up; and enjoyed the 
exceptionally impressive view obtained thence. 

The summit of this glorious mountain contains over ten 
acres, where persons can securely walk, or even drive a carriage, 
could such be transported thither. There are seven pine trees 
upon it, of the following species: Finns Jeffreiji, F . inonticola, 
and F. contorta; besides numerous shrubs, grasses, and flowers. 
A " chip-monk," some lizards, and grasshoppers, have taken up 
their isolated preemption claims there. Two sheep, supposed to 
have been frightened by bears, once scrambled up there; to 
which Mr. Anderson daily carried water, until they w^ere event- 
ually lost sight of. Their bones were afterwards discovered side 
by side, in a sheltered hollow. 

The commanding position of the Half (or South) Dome at 
the head of the Valley, wdth a vertical altitude above it of nearly 
five thousand feet, two-thirds of wdiich is absolutely in the zenith, 
makes the view from its culminating crest inexpressibly sublime. 
There is not only the awe-inspiring depth into which one can 
look, where everything is dwarfed into utter insignificance, but 
the comprehensive panorama of great mountains everywhere 
encompassing us. As Yo Semite, confessedly, has not its emula- 
tive counterpart on earth, so is this view the culminating crown 
of scenic grandeur, that is utterly without a rival upon earth. 

When sitting upon its edge our feet swing over a vortex of 
five thousand feet; and if we can imagine forty-five San Fran- 
cisco Palace Hotels placed on top of each other, and ourselves 
seated upon the cornice of the upper one, surrounded by mount- 
ain peaks, deep gorges, beautiful lakes, and vast stretches of for- 
est, with here and there bright pastures, some realizing sense of 
the preeminently glorious scene may partially be conceived. 


Such a position, to those whose nerves had not been disci- 
plined, might be trying in the extreme, if not impossible; bat to 
those whose daily life brings them in constant and familiar con- 
tact with such, there is no perceptible nervousness whatsoever; 
therefore there is no particular merit in it. In 1877 Mr. Anderson, 
after assisting Mr. S. C. Walker, the photographer, and the 
writer, to pack up all the photographic apparatus necessary for 
taking views from its summit, deliberately placed a large flat rock, 
projectingly, on the margin of the precipice, and stood upright 
upon it while the photograph was taken ; one of his feet being 
over, and beyond the edge eleven inches, as presented in the 
accompanying view, taken at that time. Although unsteadied 
and unsupported, not a nerve or uiuscle quivered. 

About seventy feet from the face of the Half Dome wall, 
there is a narrow and nearly vertical fissure, several hundred feet 
in depth judging from the time stones dropped in were traveling 
to the bottom. This becomes suggestive that ere very long a new 
fracture may here take place. 


Duripg the severe winter of 1883-84 the ice and snow slid- 
ing down the smooth back of the great Half Dome, carried with 
it over four hundred feet of the rope Anderson had j^ut up with 
so much care and risk, and several of the iron eye-bolts with it. 
This deprived every enthusiastic climber of the pleasure of 
ascending to its wondrous summit, and of obtaining the une- 
qualed view from that gloi'ious standpoint. No one seemed 
imbued with sufficient ambitious courage to replace it — Anderson 
having passed away to his rest. 

But, just after sunset, one evening of the ensuing summer, 
every resident of tlie Valley, familiar with the fact of the rope's 
removal, was startled by the sight of a blazing fire udou its ut- 
most crest; and all kinds of suppositious theories were indulged 
in concerning such phenomena. No one knew of any one con- 
templating so hazardous a venture. What could it mean? 


EvenUialJy it transpired that two young gentlemen, who 
"were summering in the Sierras, hunting, fishing, reading, and 
sketching, had baen missed some days from their camping-ground 
in the Valley ; and, therefore, there was the possibility that these 
might have unknowingly attempted to ascend it, and succeeded. 
But that possibility shared the companionship of another, which 
filled every mind with consternation ; that they were up there, 
and could not come down ; that the fire sei.'n was at once a signal 
of distress as well as of success, and a call for help. 

Before daylight the following morning, therefore, four of us, 
well supplied with ropes, extra bolts, and other essentials, were 
upon the way for their deliverance. At Snow's, however, we 
met the daring adventurers ; and found that, although they had 
made the perilous climb up, they had also accomplished the descent 
in perfect safety. These twin heroes were Mr. Alden Sampson, 
of New York City, and Mr. A. P. Proctor, of Colorado. 

Grateful for the intended, though unneeded deliverance, these 
young gentlemen very thoughtfully presented themselves at the 
cabin, to tender their thanks, and express their acknowledgments 
of the good services premeditated; when Mr. Sampson kindly 
favored me with the following i-ecitative of their danger-defving 
exploit: — 

Having heard of the incomparable view obtained from the summit of 
the Half (or South) Dome, and that the ascent was assisted by a strong 
rope, attended with some danger, we resolved to make the escalade. 
To our disappointment we discovered that the ice and snow of the pre- 
ceding winter had torn down the rope; and, to our chagrin, learned that 
one of the old-timers of these parts had expressed himself as patiently 
awaiting the advent of some venturesome member of the English Alpine 
Club for its replacement. This aspect of the matter, I must own, galled 
my pride Should we forsooth, Avait for some foreign sinner to scale a 
peak for us in the American Sierras? Not by a darned sight! 

So we quietly reconnoitered the place, and made all necessary prepara- 
tions in entire secrecy, that no one should have the pleasure of laugh- 
ing at us, if we failed. After extracting the hob nails from the heels of 
one pair of boots, I drove them into the soles of another, where our 
plantigrades got their grip. Then we took two hundred and fifty feet of 


picket rope, a handful of lunch, and a lemon apiece, and in the early 
morning rode from our camp to the peak. 

Without my companion the ascent could not have been made; and 
without me (I don't mind telling you in all modestyj, it could not have 
been made, on this occasion. We supplemented one another's work. He 
could throw the reatta like a native Californian; so that when a pin was 
not over thirty feet off, he would be sure to " rope it" the first time. The 
end of the reatta once fast, one of us would pull himself up by it; then 
stand upon the pin, ready to take up and make fast the old rope, after the 
other had tied the lower end of the reatta to it. 

But, after a while, we came to a clean stretch of a hundred feet, 
where not a single jjin was found; yet, at this point a difficult corner had 
to be turned. My companion, being barefooted, found that he could not 
cling to the surface as well as I could, with hob nails under my feet; 
so I had the pleasure of attempting this all to myself. The sensation Avas 
glorious. I did not stake my life upon it, for I was sure I could make 
it. If I had slipped in the least I should have had a nasty fall of several 
hundred feet. To be sure, I was playing out a rope behind me attached 
to my waist; but, supposing I had fallen with all this slack below me, my 
weight would have snapped it, or cut me in two. 

The difficult j^art here was that a point had to be rounded on naked 
granite, that was both steep and slijjpery; not the coarse, rough variety 
one sometimes sees, but polished by beating Sierra storms, and the snow- 
slides of innumerable winters. In the hardest placeof all a little bunch of 
dwarf spirea, growing in a crevice, gave me frien-dly assistance. What 
it lived on up there I cannot imagine, as it grew in such a narrow crack 
of the naked granite. However, its roots had a tenacious hold; and a 
piece of partially rotten bale rope affiarded me a steady pull of ten or 
fifteen pounds; quite enough to steady me in the most difficult spot. 

My companion exercised great skill and patience in making throws 
with the reatta; having to sit on the edge of a seemingly perjjendicular 
precipice, morally supported by a rope from his waist attached to the pin 
below him; but, for actual, jihysical dependence, relied solely upon his foot- 
hold on the iron eyebolt under his feet. I dare say that his experience 
in one thing was similar to my own, — the feeling that Avhen he clung to 
the rock, it was seemingly trying to push him from off it. After many 
unsuccessful etibrts to lasso the pin a hundred feet above us, with such 
precarious foot-hold, nearly two precious hours were consumed, and the 
task was apparently hoiieless, when the reatta at last caught the distant 
pin firmly; and as we taughtened it, we could not repress a shout of joy- 
ful exultation, as now we had conquered the enemy, and could make the 

rni-: yo si:Mirr: vallijy. 463 

ascent. And altliou;xli \v<' liad otlier ditficull spots to o-.ercomo, we 
were soon upon the glorious sLuninit of tlie great Half Dome, signalintr 
those that we thought might be watching us from below. 


As intimated elsewhere, there is a singular appropriateness 
in the name of this oran<l mountain crest, inasmucli as there is 
frequently a cloud lingering there when there is not another A'isi- 
ble in the firmament. Seen fi'om the Valley it is always a point 
of attractive interest especially "when wreathed in storm. It is 
about one thousand feet higher than the Half Dome; its height 
being six thousand feet above the Yalle}'. 

From its cloud-crested top one vast panorama oi the High 
Sierra, embracing an area over fifty miles in length, is opened at 
our feet. Nestling valleys, pine-margined lakes, bleak mountain 
peaks, lonely and desolate, and deep gorges half filled with snow, 
are on every hand. To the eastward, above the timber line, 
(here about 10,800 feet high), stands boldly out Mt. Hoti'man, 
10,872 feet above sea level; Mt. Tuolumne, 11,000 feet; Mt. Gibbs, 
13,090 feet; Mt. Dana, 13,270 feet; Mt. Lyell, 13,220 feet; Echo 
Peak, 11,231 feet; Temple Peak, 11,250 feet; Cathedral Peak, 
11,200 feet; Mt. Clark (formerly known as Gothic Peak, the 
Obelisk, etc.), 11,295 feet; Mt. Starr King, 9,105 feet, with 
numerous others that are as yet nameless ; while the point upon 
which we ai'e supposed to be standing (Cloud's Rest) is 9,855 feet. 

Turning our eyes westward, we look down upon the crown 
of the Half Dome, and the great Valley below. But who can paint 
the haze-clothed heights, and depths, of the wonderful scenes 
before us? Almost at our feet, G.OOO feet beneath us, sleeps 
Mirror Lake; yonder, the North Dome, the Yo Semite Fall, Eagle 
Peak, El Capitan, Sentinel Dome, Glacier Point, and many others 
that margin the glorious Yo Semite. Verily this view must be 
seen to be even partial!'' realized. 

The way to these wondrous scenes is past the base of the 
Cap of Liberty, up a somewhat steep ascent; at the right of 
which a splendid side view of the Nevada Fall is obtained. At 



the top of the "zigzags" the horses should be tied, and a tramp 
taken of about two hundred yards to 


Here the Merced River, for some distance, forms a series of 
rapids, near the edge of which are numerous patches of bare, 
glacier-polished granite. Leaving these on our left, we seek the 
edge of the cliff, over which the Nevada is making its marvelous 
leap. On the way we see a singular botanical freak of nature, 
known as 


It is a Douglas spruce, Fseiido tsuga Douglasii. Just beyond 
this we can stand on the edge of the precipice; but, as it is Hat, 
nearly all lie down to take a soul-filling glimpse of the awe- 
inspiring majesty and glory beneath. The fall, almost directly 
after it daringly leaps its rocky rim, strikes the inclining wall, 
and apparently forms into a wavy mass of curtain-like folds, 
composed from top to bottom of diamond lace: now draping this 


side, then lifted, as by fairy hands, to the other. The base, as 
though it Avould make the whole scene a miniature heaven, and 
through it lead men to the outer footstool of the Almighty throne, 
is spanned with gorgeous rainbows ; while the beautiful river hur- 
ries on, and the grand mountains around stand sentinel forever. 

About a mile beyond we enter the Little Yo Semite Valley, 
at the head of which, some thi'ee miles distant, is a sugar-loaf- 
shaped mountain, an(i a cascade one hundred and fifty feet in 
length, down which the Merced River rushes at an angle of about 
20°. Just beyond this a bold bluff, a thousand feet in height 
above the river, juts across the entire upper end, the top of which 
is highly polished by glaciers; and around it every hollow is filled 
with the detritus of old moraines. 

The picturesque Little Yo Semite left behind, with its glacier- 
polished mountains around it, our course hence, to both Half 
Dome and Cloud's Rest, is, for the most part, over old inoraines, 
where bowlders from every conceivable texture of granite, totally 
unlike that which forms the base here, are strewn on every hand. 
Those who have entertained a doubt about ancient glaciers hav- 
ing once covered the whole l:)i-oad field of the Sierras, can here find 
evidence bej^ond question to dispel it. 

As we journey upward and onward, new mountain peaks 
and spurs and ranges come into view ; while flowers of every hue 
bloom at our side. The one most conspicuous of all, however, is 

THE SNOW PLANT OF THE SIERRAS (Scircocles scinguinea). 

This blood-red and strikingly attractive flower is to be seen 
upon every route to the Big Trees and Yo Semite Valley, as upon 
nearly every trail or by-path in or around them, at an elevation 
above sea level, ranging from four to eight thousand feet; its 
brilliant, semi-translucent stem, and bells, and leaves that inter- 
twine among the bells, being all blood-red, their constituents 
seemingly of partially crystallized sugar, make it the most con- 
spicuously beautiful flower born of the Sierras. 

From the common name it bears might come the impression 


that its birthplace is among Sierran snows, but this is not the 
case; for, although its growth and early development is beneath 
deep banks of snow, it seldom shows its blood-red crown until 
some days after the snow has melted away. 

Many eminent botanists consider this a parasitic plant, some 
affirming that it grows only upon a cedar root (Libocedrus de- 
curr(nf>)\n a certain stage of decay; but these deductions may 
have been made from the close resemblance in outline of the 
Sarcodes sanguinea with the Boschniakia strohilacea, which is 
positively a parasitic flower, that prefers the manzanita as its 
host. I have, however, seen this floral gem flovirishing over a 
thousand fei^t above the habitat of cedars; and, after carefully 
digging up over twenty specimens, could find no indication 
whatever of their parasitic character. 

The height of its panicled blossom above ground is from 
seven to sixteen inches, with a diameter of from two to four 
inches ; its bulb-root extending as far down into the earth as the 
flower is above it. When digging up specimens, therefore, this 
fact should be remembered ; as to break them off" — and they are 
exceedingly bi-ittle— is to spoil them. 


Oa those eternal \ eaks where winter reigns, 
And cold and frosts their icy splendors shed. 

Like drops of blood on pallid banks of snow, 
This hyacinthine blossom lifts its head, 

A pyramid of tiny tongues of tlame 

Darting from out the rifts of dazzling white — 

A strange, bright phantom, born of ice and fire, 
Flushing pale wastes with gleams of crimson light. 

'Tis said that when a holy man of old, 
Bearing the cross, on sacred mission bent, 

Beheld upon the mountain's s lowy crest 
This blood-red flower— his pious fancy lent 

A charm miraculous, and, kneeling there 

In adoi'ation, on the mountainside. 
With htavenward gaze and hands vipraised in prayer, 

" Sanijre de Crisio" — blood of Christ — he cried! 

—Sarah J. Pettinos. 

The CflLiFORNifl Snow Plant. 

( Sarcoties Sanguincii.) 
Onk-Thikm) Xai iK.M. Sizi-:. 



Acuse not Nature, she liath done her part; 
Do thou liut thine. 

— Milton's Paradise Lost, Bk. Mil, Line 561. 

The pleasantest things iu the \\ orld are pleasant thoughts, and the great art 
of life is to have as many of them as po.^sil)k'. 

— Bovee"s Sumnmries of Thought. 

Beauty was lent to nature as the type 
Of Heaven's unspeakable and holy joy, 
Where all perfection makes the sum of hliss. 

— S. J. Hale. 

Supposing tliat we are not over-fatigued, and that the cham- 
pagne atmosphere we are drinking daily is becoming to ns the 
fabled fountain of perpetual youth, let us attempt the ascent of 
the Glacier Point Trail, to Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome, and 
look upon the imperishable grandeur there portrayed. 

Seeking the entrance to the horse-path at the back of the lit- 
tle chapel, Wc commence the ascent. Formerly, the glorious scenes 
we are about to witness were denied to the many on account of 
the difficulty, danger, and fatigue attending the climb; as it had 
to be made on foot, and up a trailless mountain-side, where rocky 
points had to be carefully surmounteil, and dense masses of shrub- 
bery defiantly overcome. Still, with all the numerous obstacles 
impeding the journey, it was occasionally accomplished. Now, 
however, through the enterprise and perseverance of j\Ir. James 
McCauley, a wide, safe, easy graded, and remarkably pictur- 
esque trail, zigzags the mountain from base to summit. 

At almost every turning new and enchantingly picturesque 
scenes are revealed between, or over, the tops of trees and shrubs 
that margin our way, until we arrive at 




And an elevation of two thousand three hundred and thirty- 
five feet above the Valley. Here let us dismount, and while our 
horses are resting and breathing, enjoy the wonderful sight. It 
will be seen that now we are on an elevated flat or table, formed 
by nature, on the edge of the mountain from whence the whole 
panorama of the lower end and middle of the Yo Semite is vis- 
ible. The Sentinel, Cathedral Spires, El Capitan, Eagle Point, 
Yo Semite Falls, and other points of interest, with all the 
serpentine windings of the Merced River, are strikingly seen. 


Near the trail at Union Point there is a rock standing on 
end, like a huge ten -pin, some thirty feet in height, and ten in 
thickness. It looks as though a good strong breeze would blow 
it over, but which has thus far successfully withstood all storms 
and earthquakes. It is known as the Agassiz Column. From 
Union Point we make a detour to the eastward, on a foot-trail, to 


Whence the whole upper end of the Valley, with all its sublime 
scenes, can be witnessed to excellent advantage. The great Half 
Dome, Cloud's Rest, North Dome, Mirror Lake, the Ten-ie-ya 
Canon, and many other views, are here before us. Remounting 
our now rested steeds, we steadily climb, filled with admiring 
wonder at every step as we advance, until, at last, we are at 


Here let me introduce you to its proprietor, Mr. James Mc- 
Cauley, a stalwart son of Erin, whose every feature bespeaks 
progressive energy and irrepressible determination. It is to him, 
and to those qualities, that we are indebted for the Glacier Point 
Trail. He was its architect and builder ; and its proprietor until 
it was purchased by the State. Mr. McCauley is the fortunate 
possessor of an excellent wife, an<l two healthy sons, twins, 
and the first ever born of white parents in Yo Semite. Mrs. 


McCauley, among other good qualities, is an excellent cook ; and 
prepares for guests as nice, clean, and relishable a meal as could 
be obtained at any first-class city hotel. Try it. But, while 
lunch is preparing, let us seek 


The broad sweep oF the great chain of the High Sierra is 
directly before us ; and, apparently, so boldly near that one feels 
he could hold converse with any adventurous climber that might 
be seen upon either of their crests. A glance at the accompany- 
ing engraving will give but a faint impression only of the glori- 
ous scene. Once looked uijon, the memor}' of its sublime impres- 
siveness will remain an exalted myster}' forever. Leaving this, 
therefore, for a frequently recurring feast, let us repair to 


Here we are on the edge of an abyss three thousand two 
hundred and fifty-seven feet deep, with all its wondrous environ- 
ments on every hand. As Derrick Dodd expresses it in his 
" Summer Saunterings:" "It is something to stop tlie beatings of 
a chamois' heart to lean over the iron railing, set between two 
verge-topling bowlders on the peak's brink, and glance down 
into the bottomless, awful gulf below. It causes spiders of ice 
to crawl down one's spine." Large trees, two hundred feet high, 
are dwarfed to utter insignificance. The little checker-board- 
like spot first attracting notice, pcssibly, isLamon's apple orchard 
of four acres, and which contains over five hundred trees, set 
regularly twenty feet apart. The other cultivated point, 
formed by the junction of Ten-ie-ya Creek with the JVIerced 
River, is Lamon's other orchard. The bright speck which throws 
out its silvery sheen in that deep, tree-dotted canon is MuTor 
Lake, and although the great sweep of the northern rim of the 
Valley is before us, with its multitudinous crags and rents, the 
Half Dome, as omnipresent as ever, overshadows and eclipses every 
lesser object. 

Grev Mountain. 
Red Mountain. 
Mt. Starr King- 




As a part of the usual programme, we experimented as to the time 
taken by different objects in reaching the bottom of the cliff. An ordi- 
nary stone tossed over remained in sight an incredibly long time, but 
finally vanished somewhere about the middle distance. A handkerchief 
with a stone tied in the corner, was visible perhaps a thousand feet 
deeper; but even an empty box, watched by a field-glass, could not be 
traced to its concussion with the Valley floor. Finally, the landlord 
appeared on the scene, caiTving an antique hen under his arm. This, in 
spite of the terrified ejaculations and entreaties of the ladies, he deliber- 
ately threw over the cliff^s edge. A rooster might have gone thus to his 
doom in stoic silence, but the sex of this unfortunate bird asserted itself 
the moment it started on its awful journey into space. With an ear- 
piercing cackle, that gradually grew fainter as it fell, the poor creature 
shot downward; now beating the air with ineffectual wings, and now fran- 
tically clawing at the very wind, that slanted her first this way and then 
that; thus the hapless fowl shot down, down, until it became a mere fluff 
of feathers no larger than a quail. Then it dwindled to a wren's size, dis- 
appeared, then again dotted the sight a moment as a pin's point, and then 
— it Avas gone! 

After drawing a long breath all round, the women folks pitched into 
the hen's owner with redoubled zest. But the genial McCauley shook 
his head knowingly, and replied: — 

" Don't be alarmed about that chicken, ladies. She's used to it. She 
goes over that cliff every day during the season." 

And, sure enough, on our road back we met the old hen about half 
up the trail, calmly picking her way home!! (V) 

D. D., you are a trump. Mark Twain coukl not beat that 
story — except, perhaps, the one about a mean man in " Roughing 
It," where the boss deducted ten minutes from a miner's time, 
after being tossed up by a premature blast, for being absent in 
the air that long from his work ! 

Our enjoyable midday repast being over, let us now ride to 
the summit of 


This is four thousand one hundred and sixty feet above the 

meadows of Yo Semite. It is a striking landmark, and as its 

crown is almost as clear of trees as though a tornado had swept 


ruthlessly across it, the view in every direction is entirely unob- 
structed The vast amphitheater of the Sierras is before us. Did 
time permit us we might profitably tarry here for hours, or even 
days as new beauties would be opening, and strange forms made 
manifest on every side and at every moment. But the rapidly 
declining sun admonishes us not to linger too long, if it is our fixed 
purpose to return to the Valley in time for the evening meal. 

If our spirit of enjoyment could be consulted, and the rich 
scenic feast could be prolonged, we should tarry here until sunset, 
as the effects from this lofty eminence are not only magical and 
majestic, but are simply glorious; then, after spending the night 
at Glacier Point, watch the streaming tails of mighty comets, 
that come at day-dawn to herald approaching njorn from among 
the snow-clad peaks and forest heights of the Sierras. 

Then, after an appetizing breakfast, we can visit the " Fis- 
sures," some three miles distant, and then make an early return 
to the Valley ; or, journey upon its southern rim through prime- 
val forests, across grassy meadows, and adown flower-covered 
slopes, to Inspiration Point, Mt. Beatitude, and the Standpoint of 
Silence ; thence to the Valley by the Wawona Road, and live over 
again its marvelous scenes. This, believe me, is a glorious jaunt. 
But, if it is preferred, we 


The view^s upon either of the routes sug'gested are so utterly 
unlike any others, here or elsewhere, that their very novelty 
doubles the charm of looking upon them. Take, for instance, the 
view of the Half Dome from the Snow trail. It is so unlike any 
other of this marvelous mountain that it might be most readily 
adjudged a different one. From this standpoint it is a sugar-loaf 
in granite, as no portion of its vertical cleavage is anywhere visible- 
Then, presently, w^e come to the yawning gulf of the Too- 
lool-a-we-ack Canon beneath us, with its four hundred feet 
water-fall ; and follow the wave-tossed cataract it is forming, with 
our eye, down the entire length of the gorge. Soon thereafter 



we are riding on 
the top of Echo 
Wall, nearly three 
thousand feet 
above the mighty 
chasm of the Mer- 
ced River ; and 
then thread our 
way among the 
troughs, or across 
the ridges of bowl- 
der-built moraines 
which form the 
lower base of 


Did time and op- 
portunity permit, 
we might climb to 
its shoulder, and 
thence obtain that 
magnificent view ; 
but could not go 
beyond this with- 
out jeoparding life 
and limb. Less than a dozen persons have been able to ascend it. 
The first to do so was Mr. Geo. B. Bayleyand Mr.E. S. Schuyler; 
followed by Geo. Anderson and the writer,' a few days afterwards, 
who, having attached ropes over difficult places, enabled Mi-s. A. 
L. Hutchings and our daughter Florence to ascend it, who were 
the first and only ladies, at this writing, that have accomplished 
the difficult task. Its crest is five thousand one hundred and 
seventy -one feet above Yo Semite Valley, and nine thousand one 
hundred and five feet above sea level. 

Soon the Nevada Falls, Cap of Liberty, Half Dome, and 




Photo. byC.L. Weed 


other familiar points, come into review, and not lon^ afterwards 
we are at Snow's, and on the great trail thoroughfare to the 

Before taking our farewell of Glacier Point, it should be 
remarked that the Yo Semite Stage and Turnpike Company- 
has constructed an excellent and highly picturesque carriage road, 
from the Wawona Turnpike at Chinquapin Flat to Glacier Point; 
thus affording the opportunity of looking upon its wondrous sights^ 
to those who could not make the ascent on horseback. Many visi- 
tors ride up the Glacier Point Trail and take the western-bound 
stage thence ; but, where it is preferred, visitors can go direct from 
Chinquapin Flat, by coach, to Glacier Point, and thence down 
the trail to Yo Semite — a severe experience to those unaccustomed 
to the saddle. 



I love to wander through the woodlands hoary 

In the soft light of an autunanal day, 
When summer gathers up her robes of glory. 

And like a dream of beauty glides away. 

— Sarah Helen Whitman. 

I hear the muffled tramp of yea: s 

Come stealing up the slope of Time; 
They bear a train of smiles and tears, 

Of burning hopes and dreams sublime. 

— .James G. Clarke. 

Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise. 

— Pope's Essay on Criticism. 

When undertaking the deHghtful jaunt now proposed, we 
repair to the north side of the Valley, and enter upon the Eagle 
Peak Trail. This was engineered and constructed by Mr. John 
Conway and sons, who performed a very valuable service to the 
public by opening up very many of the magnificent scenes we 
are about to witness, and that were before sealed from human 
vision; but for which, I regret to say, no adequate compensa- 
tion was returned them. 

As we zigzag our way up it by an easy grade, stunted live- 
oaks offer grateful shade, and manzanita and wild lilac bushes 
border it on either side. Trees, buildings, gardens, cattle, and 
horses grow gradually more diminutive ; while surrounding gran- 
ite walls tower up bolder and higher. In peaceful repose sleeps 
the Valley, its carpet of green cut up, perhaps, by pools of shin- 
ing water, and the serpentine course of the river resembles a 
huge silver ribbon. At an elevation of 1,154 feet we rest at 




And thence look down upon the enchanting panorama that lies 
before us. Everything visible below has become dwarfed; while 
in the far-away distance above and beyond us, mountain peaks 
are constantly revealing themselves impressively, one after the 
other. Remounting", we ascend a little, then ride alono- a broad 
ledge of granite that, from the Valley, appears to be far too 
narrow for a horse and its rider to travel upon in safety; but, 
finding ourselves mistaken, we presently arrive at 


Here the horses are again left upon the trail, while we foot our 
way to the edge of the overhanging wall, that, from below 
looked so formidable a precipice. From this standpoint, not only 
can the entire length of the lower Yo Semite Fall be seen ; but 
the interjacent depths and irregularities of the intervening canon 
between the top of the lower, and foot of the upper fall ; while in 
front of us the entire Upper Yo Semite Fall is in full view. 
Charmingly attractive as this scene may be, we naturally wish to 
seek a closer communion with its glories, and cannot rest until 
we are almost 


Speechless with reverential awe, we have reached the won- 
derful goal. But, alas! who can describe it? who fittingly tell 
of its wonderful beauties, or describe its manifold glories, and 
majestic presence? It is impossible. We look upward, and we 
see an avalanche of water about to bury us up, or sweep us into 
the abyss beneath. By degrees we take courage; and, climbing 
the watery mass with our eye, discern its remarkable changes 
and forms. Now it would seem that numerous bands of fun- 
loving fairies have set out for a frolic ; and, assuming the shape of 
watery rockets, have entered the fall; and, after making the 
leap, are now playing " hide-and-seek" with each other among 
its watery folds ; now chasing, now catching ; then, with retreat- 
ing surprises, disappearing from view, and re-forming, or chang- 



ing, shoot again into sight. While the wind, as if shocked at 
such playful irreverence, takes hold of the white diamond mass, 
and lifts it aside like a cui'tain ; when each rocket-formed fairy, 
leaping down from its folds, first fiinges its edge, then disappears 
from our sight, and is lost among rainbows and clouds. 

The first great vertical leap of this fall being fifteen hun- 
dred feet, makes it scarcely less impressive than El Capitan, when 
standing against the wall at its foot Just at the back of, and 
immediately beneath it, there is a cave some forty feet in depth. 
As the fall itself veils the entrance to this cave, it can only 
be entered when the stream is low; or, as not infrequently hap- 
pens, when the wind has sufticient force to lift the entii-e fall 
to one side. On one of these occasions two venturesome young 
men, who had climbed to the foot of the cliff, seeing the entrance 
to the cave clear, ran into it ; but they had scarcely entered when 

Photo by C. E Walking. 



the fall, returning to its normal position, filled the aperture 
with dense and comminuted spray, which made it next to impos- 
sible to breathe, while effectually cutting off their retreat. In 
this nearly fatal dilemma they were helpless; but, fortunately, the 
wind again swept its folds to one side, and they lost no time in 
effecting their perilous escape. When relating their hazardous 
feat, they both made voluntary confession never to be caught at 
so foolish and so dangerous an experiment again I 

Leaving this interesting and truly captivating spot, we con- 
tinue our crinkled way up the debris lying at the base of Eagle 
Tower wall (vertical for 1,600 feet), passing flowers and flower- 
ing shrubs, to enter into the refreshing shade of a grove of yel- 
low pines, Pinus Jeffreyi, and soon thereafter find ourselves 
at the 


The current of this stream is very irregular. For nearly 
half a mile it has a speed of about eight knots an hour ; then, 
for about two hundred yards from the lip of the mountain, it 
leaps over a broken series of ledges into eddying pools, from 
which it swirls, and swashes, and jumps, until it makes its final 
bound over the precipice, and is lost to view. For about ten yards 
back of the edge, the gray granite is so smooth that, lying down 
upon it, clingingly, when the stream is absent, it would be impos- 
sible to prevent sliding over the brink, but for a narrow crack 
in the rock where there is fino-er-hold. This enables us to cling 
sufficiently, until we can work our way to a flattish, basin-like 
hollow, in safety; whence one can creep out to the margin of the 
abyss, and look down into it. My measurement here, by aneroid 
barometer, made its height above the Valley two thousand six 
hundred and forty feet. Its breadth at the lip is thirty-four feet; 
and, tw^enty feet above it, seventy feet. One position on a pro- 
jecting ledge enables the eye to follow this water-fall from top to 
base, and watch the ever-changing colors of its rainbow hues the 
entire distance. 

From this point it is a most delightful forest ride to Eagle 


Meadows, their grassy glades, and pools covered with bright yellow 
water-lilies, Xuphar jjoly sepal aini, and thence to 


This was so named from its being such a favorite resort of 
this famous bird of prey. I once saw seven eagles here, at play; 
they would skim out upon the air, one following the other, 
and then swoop perpendicularly down for a thousand or more 
feet, and thence sail out again horizontally upon the air with 
such graceful nonchalance that one almost envied them their 
apparen b gratification . 

The altitude of this rugged cliff above the Valley is three 
thousand eight hundred and eighteen feet, three hundred and 
thirty feet lower than the Sentinel Dome on the other side ; but 
owing to the great vertical depth of the gulf immediately be- 
neath it, as well as the comprehensive panorama from and around 
about it, not only is the entire upper end of the Valley, with 
its wild depths and canon defiles, visible therefrom, but the whole 
sweep of the distant Sierras, as far as the eye can reach. 

I once had the pleasure of conducting the Rev. J. P. New- 
man, D. D., and Rev. Sunderland, D. D. (each, then, of 

Washington, D. C), to its wondrous summit; when, after a long, 
and evidently constrained silence, the former suddenly ejaculated, 
"Glory! Hal-le-lu-jah — Glory! Hal-le-lu-jah ! " (the doctor was a 
Methodist, you know) then, turning around, the tears literally 
streaming down his cheeks, he thus expressed himself: " Well, Mr. 
H, if I had crossed the continent of America on purpose to 
look upon thifi one view, I should have returned home, sir, per- 
fectly satisfied." 

Eleven of us (six ladies and five gentlemen), after a most 
delightful camping sojourn of three months in the High Sierra, 
concluded that to revisit this spot would be a befitting finale to 
our summer's pilgrimage. Accordingly some eight additional 
days were spent upon the grassy meadows below, and in making 
daily ascents to the culminating crest of Eagle Peak. It is a view 
that seems never to weary, or to become common-place. Gather- 


ing storm-clouds admonishing an early departure we gave re- 
luctant consent; to find, that, within twenty-four hours after 
breaking up camp, three feet of snow had covered the ground. 


As Eagle Peak Trail is the one necessarily traveled from the 
great Valley to Lake Ten-ie-ya, and as we have supposedly 
reached the top of the mountain, and are thus far on our way; 
let us continue our journey up or down forest-clothed ravines, 
amid and over low ridges, and across the heads of green meadows, 
with here and there an occasional glimpse of distant mountain 
peaks, vnitil we reach Porcupine Flat; thence to travel upon the 
Great Sierra Mining Company's Turnpike road all the way to 
the beautiful lake. It should here be stated that by this thorough- 
fare travelers can now drive not only among the tops of the 
Sierras, but over their summit, by leaving the Big Oak Flat road 
near Crocker's. 

Following the dancing and sparkling waters of Snow Creek, 
which have their source in the snow-banks of Mt. Hoffman, there 
can, on every hand, be witnessed the unmistakable evidences of 
glacial action, in the moraines, and highly polished and deeply 
striated granite that can everywhere be seen ; not in mere patches 
only, but many miles in extent. On every peak, mountain 
shoulder and bare ledge, where disintegration has not removed the 
writing, the record is so plain that "he who runs may read." 
This is most strikingly manifest from the Hoffman ridge down 
to Lake Ten-ie-ya. The entire slope, some three miles long, is 
glacier-polished, and before the road was built the utmost care 
was needed, in passing down the trail, to prevent horses from 
falling. The glistening surfaces attract almost as much atten- 
tion, for the time being, as the scenery. 

Refulgent, however, with sheen, the bright bosom of 


Can be seen glinting between the trees and erelong we are 
treading upon its pine-boi-dered shores. Oh '. how charming the 


landscape. Mountains from one thousand to two thousand five 
hundred feet in height bound it on the east and on the south. 
At the head of the lake they are more or less dome-shaped, 
glacier-rounded, and polished; on the south, Ten-ie-3'a Peak 
towers boldly up, and throws distinctly and repeatedly back the 
echoes of our voice. But for persuasive remonstrances from our 
oro-ans of digestion, we could almost believe that we were in Fairv 
Land. These humanizing appeals, however, are not to be re- 
pressed, and, as a sequence, we find ourselves crossing the hospi- 
table threshold of 

murphy's cabin. 

The name of its builder and proprietor being John L. 
Murphy, let me without ceremony introduce him. Mr. Murphy 
is one of the old-time residents, and was, formerly, one of the most 
obliging and reliable of the guides of Yo Semite. If you will 
read H. H.'s "Bits of Travel," you will find a correctly drawn 
and full length pen-portrait of him. Wiry with exercise, grizzled 
by exposure, and healthy from breathing pure mountain air, he 
is a little Hercules in strength and endurance. Then there are 
but few, if any, more kindly-hearted, genial, and thoughtfully 
careful of your comfort than he. Be sure of one thing, the mo- 
ment you feel the grip of his manly hand, and have one look 
into his honest face, you will feel thoroughly at home with him ; 
in entire confidence, therefore, we may share his kindly care. 

This charmino- mountain-locked lake is about one and three- 
quarter miles in length by three-quarters of a mile in width; 
and although very deep on its southern side is quite shallow 
on its northern, so that before the new road was built, the course 
of the trail eastward was, for half a mile, directly through it, to 
avoid the mountainous defile north of its encompassing blufis. 


There is a most curious phenomenon observable hei'e, nearly 
every still morning during summer, that deservedly attracts at- 
tention. It is a peculiar sound, something between a whistle and 


a hiss, that shoots through the air with startHng velocity, appar- 
ently about a mile above the surface of the water. Its course is 
generally from south and west to north and east; although it 
seemingly travels, at times, in all conceivable directions, and with 
a velocity much greater than a screeching shell in battle. Now 
the question arises, "What is the cause of all this? " Can it be 
from the rapid passage of currents of electricity through the air, 
or the rush of air through some upper stratum? Will some one 
who knows kindly answer the question, " What is it? " 

The mountains around the lake — Ten-ie-ya Peak, Ten-ie-ya 
Dome, and Murphy's Dome, standing out most prominently — 
are very irregular in their form and cleavage, but yet are un- 
speakably picturesque. This, with the quaint ruggedness of the 
Pinus contorta trees which grow upon its margin; the glacier 
polish and striae upon nearly all of its surrounding granite; the 
balmy healthiness of its summer air (as meat never spoils, on the 
hottest of days), its altitude above sea level being seven thousand 
nine hundred and seventy feet, the purity of its waters, and its 
central position for climbing every grand peak around it, should 
make Lake Ten-ie-ya one of the most delightful summer resorts 
in the world ; especially when its waters are well stocked with 
fish, and the sheep-herder no longer pastures his sheep near, which 
drive away all the game that would naturall}'' seek these great 
solitudes. Attractive as this wildly romantic spot may be, we 
must leave it and its genial hermit, for a time at least, to visit, 
in spirit, some of 


From Yo Semite to the summit of the Sierra Nevada there abounds more 
grand scenery than can be found in any other portion of the State. 

— Prof W. H Brewer. 

The marvelous scenic and natural phenomena of the High 

Sierra was as a closed volume to nearly all except the irrepressible 

prospector and vandalistic sheep-herder, until its wondrous pages 

were opened to the public by the California State Geological 

Survey, under Prof. J, D. Whitney Although nature here builds 



her prodigious reservoirs of snow, storms hold unchecked carni- 
val, and the chemistry of trituration is silently manipulating its 
manifold forces, and eliminating scenes of grandeur that charm 
both eye and soul, human eyes and thoughts could not befoi-e 
look in upon her astonishing laboratoiy. Now, however, the 
glorious book is wide open, and its inviting leaves can be turned 
by everv mind. Being a vast and interesting volume of itself, 

I can now only epitomize and outline some of its principal at- 
tractions, that are as wild and wonderful in theiji way as the 
Yo Semite itself, while being utterly unlike it. The one nearest, 
and whose bold prominence we have noticed from all the high 
points more immediately around the Valley, is 


The summit of this mountain is ten thousand eight hundred 
and seventy-two feet above sea level, and the view from it com- 
mandingly fine. Just beneath its northern wall is the horseshoe- 


shaped head of Yo Semite Creek, with its numerous Httle glacier- 
scooped lakelets; and which, with deep snow banks, form the 
main source of Yo Semite Creek. Here that stream heads. 
About one hundred feet from its apex is 


Where stunted pines, Finus albicaulis, form the only and 
highest occupant. Owing to the density of foliage and singular 
contour of these trees, caused mainly by exposure of situation 
and the depth of winter snows, one could, with care, walk on 
their tops, seldom over a dozen feet above the ground. As in- 
timated elsewhere, the upper timber line of the Sierras in this 
latitude never exceeds eleven thousand feet ; at Fisherman's Peak 
(unfairly called Mt. Whitney) it is twelve thousand two hundred 
and twenty, while at Mt. Shasta, it is only eight thousand feet. 
Beyond and above these the whole chain consists of bleak and 
storm-beaten peaks and crags; yet, though forest verdure is 
denied them, beautiful flowers bloom in sheltered hollows, to their 
very summits How thoughtlessly do we sometimes allude to 
"the bleak and desolate mountains," forgetting that in these are 
treasured the subtile essences needed for the pabulum of plant, 
and other organic life, even to their coloring and fragrance. 

Were we to lingeringly dwell on these, or upon the echoes 
thrown from peak to peak upon this crest, where " Every mount- 
ain now hath found a tongue," or in viewing the numberless rocky 
pinnacles and placid lakes in sight, I fear that other scenes and 
charms would remain unenjoyed; therefore, let us return to Lake 
Ten-ie-ya, with the imprassion that another glorious and soul- 
filling day has been most profitably spent. 

Rafting on the lake, musing, sketching, day-dreaming, nor 
even pleasant chats with the kind old Hermit of Lake Ten- 
ie-ya, must detain us from taking the picturesque road along the 
margin of this captivating sheet of water ; and, threading our way 
by tlie side of bold bluffs, along the tree-arched road, and across 
a low ridge into the 



These afford such striking contrast to otlicr sights witnessed 
that they somewhat cahn the excited imagination by their sylvan 
peacef Illness, and by g]-atified change prepare us for the sublime 
scenes that everywhere stand guard. Of course, we must visit 


There are several of these that flow bubbling]}^ up in close 
proximity to each other, and offer us a, deliciously refreshing 
drmk of aerated soda water. Here, too, we may meet a hermit- 
artist named Lembert, who annually brings his Angora goats to 
feed upon the succulent pastures, whilst he makes sketches. 
Here we are eight thousand live hundred and fifty-eight feet above 
the sea. Leavmg these we pass glacier-polished bluffs, cross en- 
tire ridges and valley stretches of moraine talus, and in about 
nine spirit-delighting miles, reach the camping ground of Mount 
Dana. Knowing that blankets and other creature comforts are 
essential for these extended trips, such things have naturally been 
provided, preparatory to spending a pleasant night here before 


Our course to the summit of this lofty standpoint, after 
leaving camp, is on the back of an old moraine for some three 
miles, where Dana Canon is entered. Here we leave the last tree 
behind and below us, and thenceforward find nothing but stunted 
willow bushes, which also are soon left behind, and at an elevation 
of eleven thousand seven hundred and fifty feet, we are on the 
saddle, or connecting neck, between Mt. Gibbs and Mt. Dana. 
Just over the ridge is a large bowlder which, when a rope is tied 
around it, makes a safe and sheltered point for tethering horses. 
The ascent thence is on foot, over fragmentary chips and blocks 
of metamorphic slate, of which this enth'e mountain is composed, 
in an endless variety of colors and shades. Once upon its glorious 
apex, we are thirteen thousand two hundred and twenty-seven 
feet above the level of the sea. 



The most expressive of language must utterly fail to describe 
this scene. The vast amphitheater of mountains, canons, and 
lakes extending in every direction to the horizon is unutterably 
sublime and bewildering. North of east, down in a gulf of six 
thousand seven hundred and seventy-three feet, restfully sleeps 
Lake Mono, which, although eighteen by twenty-three miles 
across, is dwarfed into comparative insignificance; beyond this 
lie the vast deserts and green oases of the State of Nevada, with 
their inexhaustible mineral wealth. Trending northward, the ir- 
resfular mountain -formed vertebrae of the great backbone of the 
Sierras, with Mts. Warren, Conness, and Castle Peak stand up 
abov^e yet among thousands of lesser ones; while southward, in 
stately prominence, soar Mts. Lyell, Ritter, and numberless others. 
Westward the penumbra of light and shade defines every lofty 
crag and peak that surrounds the wonderful Valley, with every 
bristling intermediate spire, and cone, and dome. 


Along the western and southern slopes of Mt. Dana [says Prof. J. 
D. Whitney*] the traces of ancient glaciers are very distinct, up to a 
height of 12,000 feet. In the gap directly south of the summit a mass of 
ice must once have existed, having a thickness of at least 800 feet at as 
high an elevation as 10,500 feet. From all the gaps and valleys of the 
west side of the range, tributary glaciers came down, and all united in 
one grand mass lower in the valley, where the medial moraines which ac- 
cumulated between them are perfectly distinguishable, and in places as 
regularly formed as any to be seen in the Alps at the j^resent day. 

It is, therefore, reasonably presumable that glaciers once 
covered the apex of Mt. Dana also, then probably much higher, 
to a depth "of at least eight hundred feet," which would give 
an aggregate approximate depth ar thickness of glacial ice in 
Yo Semite Valley of nearly two miles! 

*Yoseuiite Guide Book, pa^'e 103. 



In the deep vertical chasm under the northern wall of Mt. 
Dana and near its crest, there is a vast deposit of ice that remains 
unmelted through all seasons of the year. Unlike that on Mt. 
Lyell, however, it is completely locked in by encompassing iiKjunt- 
ain that precludes the possibility of motion, except normally, as 
the ice melts. This forms one of the main sources of the Tuol- 
umne River. On the very summit of this bleak landmark grow 
bunches of bright purple flowers, the Jacob's Ladder of the High 
Sierra, Polevioniwrn confertum,. 

Leaving these enrapturing scenes and mysteries, let us wend 
our delighting way, over old moraines, and past the glacier- 
polished floor of the Lyell branch of the Tuolumne meadows, to 
their head, where there is an excellent camping ground, whence 
the hoary head of Mt. Lyell itself looms grandly up, six miles 
away. Here we are at an altitude of eight thousand nine bun- 
dled and fifty feet. Forest fires set by sheep-herders having de- 
nuded much of the lower portion of the ascent of its timber, we 
must not expect the refreshhig shade formerly enjoyed from it. 
At this altitude, however, the heat is in no way oppressive, al- 
though we have on foot to make 


Believe me, this is a glorious climb. The invigorating air 
seems to permeate every fiber and nerve, and to penetrate almost 
to the marrow of one's bones. Flowers, flowering shrubs, and 
ferns, with occasional groups of trees, continue with us to the 
limit of the timber line, and the former to the very summit, which 
is thirteen thousand two hundred and twenty feet above sea level. 


About fifteen hundred feet below its culminating crest we 

reach the foot of the glacier, portions of which having broken ofi" 

and fallen into a small deep lakelet, distinctly reveal the ethereal 

blue of the icy deposit. This fine glacier is about two miles in 



leno-th, having a direction southeasterly by northwesterly, by 
half a mile in width, with an estimated depth, or thickness, of 
from three hundred to five hundred feet. Deep down in the un- 
seen profound of its blue crevasses, water can be heard singing 
and gurgling, from which emanate the streams that form the 
source of the main, or Lyell branch, of the Tuolumne River. By 
several experiments, such as the setting of stakes in line with the 
general trend of the glacier, it has been ascertained to move at 
the rate of from seven-eighths to one inch per day. A large por- 
tion of its surface is corrugated by a succession of ridges and 
furrows, from about twenty inches to two feet apart, and the 
same in depth; having a resemblance to a chopping sea whose 
waves had been suddenly frozen 

The upper edge of this living glacier is about one hundred 
and seventy feet below»the rocky apex of Mt. Lyell, " which was 
found to be a sharp and inaccessible pinnacle of granite rising 
a,bove a field of snow."* Members of the State Geological Sur- 
vey Corps having considered it impossible to reach the summit 
of this lofty peak, the writer was astonished to learn from Mr. 
A. T. Tileston, of Boston, after his return to the Valley from a 
jaunt of health and pleasure in the High Sierra, that he had 
personally proven it to be possible by making the ascent. In- 
credible as it seemed at the time, three of us found Mr. Tile- 
ston's card upon it some ten days afterwards. 


On the southern side of Mt. Lyell there is an almost vertical 
wall of granite some twelve hundred feet high, rising from a 
rock-rimmed basin, whose sheltered sides hoard vast banks of 
snow, which, melting, form the main water supply of the Mer- 
ced River, flowing through the Yo Semite Valley. Thus Mt. 
Lyell becomes the source of two valuable streams, the Merced on 
the south, and the Tuolumne on the north and east. 

Of course the view from this magnificent standpoint is ex- 

*Yosemite Guide Book, page 104. 


ceptionally imposing. Not only are there lofty and isolated single 
peaks without number, but distinct groups of mountains, that 
form the sources of as many streams, or their tributaries; with 
broad lakes and deep canons on every hand, extending as far as 
human vision can penetrate, but of which Mt. Lyell seems to be 
the center. Leveling across to Mt. Ritter (apparently only a 
stone's throw from us, although some five miles distant), we judged 
its altitude to exceed that of Mt. Lyell by about one hundred 
and thirty feet. The glaciers of Mt. Ritter, and the Minarets, 
originate and supply the waters of the main north fork of 
the San Joaquin River. While seated among the blocks of rock 
that lie on the edge of this glorious crag, a little " chipmunk " 
ran out from a crevice and began to cliatter at us; but we as- 
sured him that we were in no way envious of his exalted choice, 
nor anxious to disturb his prior possessory right or preemption 

Loose masses of rock, having become detached from its crest, 
have toppled down upon the glacier; which, in its almost im- 
perceptible declivity, has silently borne them to the edge of the 
glacier basin, and there dropped them. These form an irregular 
wall some two hundred feet in height, among which the new- 
born stream creeps gurglingly, and thence issues forth. These 
visible glacial " dumps," as miner's would call them, are suggestive 
of the way that many moraines are first formed. 

Treeless slopes, pools, piles of disintegrated rock, broadening 
streamy, and water- worn crevices, with abundant plant life, con- 
tinue with us from the summit of Mt. Lyell down to the tim- 
ber line (here some two thousand four hundred feet below), Avhere 
the Finus albicaulis becomes the only forest tenant for some dis- 
tance; soon, however, to be left behind for the companionship of 
the Pinus contorta, P. Jefreyii, Abies Pattoniana, and other 
trees, until we arrive at picturesque " Camp Mt. Lyell;" thence 
through God's most glorious picture gallery back via Cathedral 
Spires and Catliedral Lake, Echo Peak and Echo Lake, Temple 
Peak, Monastery Peak, Moraine Valley, Sunrise Ridge, Nevada 
and Vernal Falls, to Yo Semite. 



The spring, the summer, 
The chilling autumn, angry winter, change 
Their wonted liveries. 

Shakespear'.s Midsummer NvjUV" Dream, Art II. 

Everything lives, flourishes, and decays; everything dies, bat nothing is lost. 

Good's Book of N Mure. 

Perhaps it may turn out a song, — 
Perhaps turn out a sermon. 

Burns' Epistle to a Young Friend. 

Frequently and earnestly has the question been asked, 


To which I would make answer— not flippantly, or inconsid- 
erately — That ivhich best suits your own loersonal convenience. 
The rest should be determined by individual taste and preference. 
When a warm, early spring first lifts the flood-gates of the snow- 
built reservoirs above, the water flows abundantly over the falls ; 
but the deciduous trees are leafless, and the earth, unkissed by 
renewing sunshine for so many months, has put forth no grasses 
or flowers. Later, when the trees are budding and the blossoms 
are just peeping, there is a suggestive softness in the new birth 
developing. Later still the fragrant blossoms fill the air with red- 
olence, and the birds with morning and evening songs. Still 
later, luscious fruits contribute their inviting treasures to the 
generous feast ; while the deep rich music of the leaping w^ater- 
f alls rolls out its constant psean of joy. And, still later, possibly 
there is less of the aqueous element, but ethereal haze drapes every 
crag and dome, and fills every crevice and canon, so that each 
mountain crest apparently penetrates farther and higher into the 


deep blue of the vast linnament above. This of all others would 
seem to be the most befitting time for day-dreaming, reading, 
and renewing rest for both body and mind ; and is, moreover, the 
one par excellence for the indulgencies of an angler's heaven. 

But, still later, comes "Jack Frost," with his inimitable 
color brush, and tips all deciduous leaves with brightness; and so 
dyes and transforms the landscape that one impressively and 
conscientiously feels that this, above all others, is the best season 
to visit Yo Semite. Then, as though all nature was in fullest 
sympathy with such transcendent loveliness, every stretch of 
still water, in lake or river, doubles every wondrous charm by re- 
flecting it upon its bosom, so that every bush or tree that may 
be struggling for life in the narrow crevices of the mountain 
walls around, are all most faithfully mirrored. 

Then, the glorious fact should not be overlooked, that the 
marvelous mountain walls, and spires, and domes, are always 
there; and, being there, are, in themselves, an all-sufficient rec- 
ompense without any supplementary accessories whatsoever. It 
will, therefore, and at once be seen that my statement is both 
correct and conclusive, that the best time to visit Yo Semite is 
" that which bests suits your convenience " all others being merely 
a matter of taste. 

There is, however, one season, apart from all others, when it 
is next to impossible, for the average traveler, at the present, to 
visit Yo Semite, and that is in the depth of winter. Therefore, 
as this cannot be conveniently witnessed, and as the writer, Avith 
his family, spent many there, as narrated on pages 141, 14:^, he 
feels that this work would be incomplete without a brief out- 
line of 


As intimated on pages 347, 348, snow begins to fall early in 
November, but this soon disappears before the delightfully balmy 
Indian summer which succeeds, and which continues with but 
little intermission, both days and nights gradually growing 
colder, until late in December, when a light fleecy film commences 


to drift across the chasm from the south — the usual quarter for 
rain in California — which soon begins to intensify and deepen ; 
then, large dark masses of cloud begin to gather beneath the lighter 
strata, with occasional stretches of sunlight sandwiched in be- 
tween the diferent layers. At intervals those dark masses of 
cloud break into fragmentary patches, when a lambent sheen 
illumines all their edges with a golden glow; then the wind in fit- 
ful gusts commences to toss them into different shapes, seemingly 
in playful preparation for marshaling all these aerial forces into 
line, before making the final swoop upon the sleeping Valley. 
Nearly every rain or snow-storm in the Sierras is heralded in by 
a strong, squally wind; and the same phenomena is generally ob- 
servable when marching it out. Soon thereafter broad belts of 
cloud come sweeping down among the mountain peaks, "Like a 
wolf on the fold," draping every crag, and dome, and wall with 
its vapory mantle, probably just as night closes in; then how 
steadily does the rain or snow fall down! 


On December 23, 1867, after a snow fall of about three feet, 
a heavy down-pour of rain set in, and incessantly continued for 
ten successive days ; when every little hollow had its own particu- 
lar water-fall, or cascade, throughout the entire circumference of 
the Valley; each rivulet became a foaming torrent, and every 
stream a thundering cataract. The whole meadow land of the 
Valley was covert*d by a surging and impetuous flood to an aver- 
age depth of nine feet. Bridges were swept away, and every- 
thing floatable was carried off. And, supposing that the usual 
spring flow of water over the Yo Semite Fall would be about si.x; 
thousand gallons per second, as stated by Mr. H. T. Mills,* at this 
particular time it must have been at least twelve or fourteen times 
that amount, giving some eighty thousand gallons per second. 
Large trees, that were four to six feet in diameter, would shoot, 
endwise, over the lip of the upper Yo Semite; and, after making 

*See page 376. 


a surging swiii or two downwards, stiike the unyielding granite 
and be shivered into fragments. At this time our family, con- 
sisting of two of the gentler sex, two young children, myself, and 
one man-servant, were the only residents of the Valley. The lat- 
ter named, was dreadfully exercised over it, as he feared that the 
last day had come, and the world was about to be destroyed the 
second time by a flood ! Immense quantities of talus were washed 
down upon the Valley during this storm, — more than at anytime 
for scores, if not hundreds, of years, judging from the low talus 
ridges, and the timber growth upon them. After this rain-storm 
had ceased, a wind sprung up, and blew down over one hundred 
trees. In one spot of less than seven acres twenty-three large 
pines and cedars were piled, crosswise, upon each other. 

Alas! at such a time, how fortunate the man or woman 
who has a cozy cabin, with an open fire-place ; plenty of fire-wood, 
an abundance of provisions, books, agreeable companionship, and 
pleasant occupation. The beating of the storm upon the window 
panes, its heavy rain-drops on the roof, or the silent footfall of 
the fast deepening snow, with such surroundings, have no ap- 
palling terrors for him. But — to the benighted traveler, far from 
home and shelter, what? " God help him ! " will be the spontane- 
ous ejaculation of every earnest and feelingly humane heart. 

Morniug dawns, and the feathery crystals are still falling 
rapidly; the day rolls slowly on, and night again drops down her 
curtain, yet still it snows. Day follows day, and night succeeds 
night, for many days and nights, perhaps, without the least ces- 
sation of the storm. I have known eleven feet of snow to fall 
without the shortest intermission. But, finally it comes; and, 
while hostilities are suspended, let us take one lingering look upon 
our fairy-like surroundings on the outside. Believe me, the scene 
without seems like 


And we intuitively ask, " Is this, verily, the same spot of earth 
upon which we looked previous to the advent of the storm ? " Alas ! 




how changed. Evoiy twig- is Itciit down, every branch laden, and 
every tree covered with the silvery garment. 

Along every bough most delicately reposes a semi-translucent 
frosting of snow, with diamond settings between the forks of 
each and every twig or branch, which, when the sun shines upon 
them, or rather through them, lights them up with a frosted glory 
that seems more like the creations of some wonderful Magi, by 
ages of lal)or, than of crystallized water within a night or two. 
Then, to look upon and up the mountain walls that surround the 
marvelous Valley, and see every bench, and shelf, or jutting rock; 
every lofty peak, or noble dome; and every sheltering hollow filled 
with snow. Can artist or poet, painter or writer, do justice to 
such a scene? Alas! no. 

Speechless with admiration, even whili' we are gazing upon 


I'hoto. by Geo KUke. Engravcil Iiy .1. JI. }luy. .-i. K. 



it, a new revelation dawns upon us, for everywhere around we 
hear rushing, rattUng, hissing, booming avalanches come shooting 
from the mountain-tops, adown precipitous hollows, and creat- 
ing fresh sources of attraction; with new combinations of im- 
pressions, that must be alike diverting and satisfying to both 
artistic and poetic feeling. Then, before these sounds can have 
been repeated in echoes, and hurled from wall to wall, or from 
crag to peak, another avalanche makes the leap; and, like its 
predecessor, indicates the birth of a new water -fall, in some 
strange and unheard-of place. 


On every frosty night immense masses of ice fringe both 
sides of every water-fall at Yo Semite; the upper Yo Semite 
most noticeably so. Icicles over a hundred and thirty feet in 
length, and from fifteen to twenty -five feet in diameter, are often 
seen; and which, when illuminated by morning sunlight, scintillate 
forth all the prismatic colors. These, however, resplendently 
brilliant and beautiful as they appear, have but a brief existence, 
inasmuch as the same sunlight that creates such gorgeous hues, 
melts away their frozen shackles, and drops them down, thunder- 
ingly, many tons in a minute; and before the echoes of one re- 
vei'berating peal have died away others keep following in rapid 
succession, until every fragment of ice has peeled off and fallen. 

This being repeated nearly every bright winter's morning, 
causes vast quantities of ice to accumulate at the base of the fall ; 
to which constant additions are made of infinitesimal atoms of 
spray, that percolate filteringly among the broken icicles, and 
which, by freezing, cement them all so compactly together that an 
enormous cone of solid ice is built immediately beneath it, to 
which every snow-storm supplements its due proportion. The nett 
results of this hibernal aggregation being to fill the entire basin 
at the base of the fall, some ten acres in extent, with consolidated 
ice ; and which varies in depth or thickness from three hundi-ed to 
five hundred and fifty feet, according to the season. In 1882, 



when the photograph was taken from which the accompanying 
engraving was made, it was at the maximum stated. 

When the spring thaw in the mountains commences in real 
earnest, a vast sheet of water shoots over the top of the fall wall, 
down upon this cone of ice, in which it soon excavates a basin; 
and when this is cut out to a depth of from twenty to lifty feet, 
the entire fall leaps into it, and at once rebounds in billowy, 
volumes of cloud over a thousand feet; and, when the sunlight 
strikes this seething, eddying mass of comminuted spray thus ris- 
ing, it lights it up with all the colors of the rainbow and presents 
one of the most gorgeous spectacles ever seen by human eyes. 

The constantly recurring scenic revelations at Yo Semite 
lead us, in worshijiful admiration as we say farewell, to breathe 
the beautiful words of Moore: — 

" The earth shall be my fragrant shrine! 

My temple, Lord! that arch of thine; 

My censer's breath, the mountain airs; 

And silent thoughts, my only prayers."' 


Los Angeles 

This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 



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